It’s been a week to forget for the New York Islanders, with three games since last Saturday the Eastern Conference Finalists from 2020 have gone 0-3-0. All three games have featured problematic performances for the Isles.
It’s not the way the Islanders would have liked to have seen their season begin or how they thought a two-game series against a weak Capitals team would go either. But that’s what happens when the majority of the team isn’t doing anything. Thankfully, not everyone has been a passenger over the last few games.
Here’s a focus on three players who’ve been in the driver seat (in a good way) for the Islanders this past week.
Mathew Barzal leads the way for the New York Islanders
Stats: 1G, 2A, 0.89AGS (Average Game Score)
When Mathew Barzal is on his game the Islanders are a tough team to play against. The 23-year-old is one of the better players in the league in transition, puck retention, and carving out scoring chances.
The Islanders top line has been one of the few positives so far in the Islanders season, thanks in large part to the play of their center Barzal.
His three points in three games is a perfect illustration of his value to the team, but it goes a bit beyond that. He leads the Isles forwards in total ice-time by seven minutes while holding the third height xGF%. (Only Beau and ROss have a better xGF but have played a fraction of Barzal’s time).
He’s a top player in the league and the top player for the Islanders. Without him, the Islanders would truly be lost.
Stats: 1G, 1A, 0.34AGS
What a start to the year by Noah Dobson. This season, Barry Trotz took the training wheels off Dobson and let him fly for the Isles. And while the 12th overall pick in 2018, hasn’t been perfect he’s been pretty darn good.
This week, Dobson added two points to his production totals this season. That brings him to five (in seven games), a pace of 59 points over a full 82 season. That’s impressive for a youngster who only played 34 games last year and is playing in a Barry Trotz defense-first system.
He’s middle of the pack for defensemen for just about every underlying number (xGF%, SCF%, HDCF%) so he still needs work to be that top guy, but again, this is his first full year really.
This week has shown that Dobson is quickly learning and growing into the role of a top-four NHL defenseman. If he keeps this up it won’t be long until he’s on the top pair.
Stats: 1G, 0.64AGS
Anders Lee has had a strong start to this 2021 season. With a power-play goal this week, Lee has equalized his goal-scoring form on the man advantage from 68 games in 19-20.
His 0.64 average game score over the last three games has been good for a team that’s been pretty poor over the last three games.
It’s the type of start that the Islanders needed from their captain.