The New York Islanders point-streak increased to seven games following a strong performance in Buffalo.
The New York Islanders didn’t bring it as they should’ve initially. But, following some first intermission tweaks, they cruised to a 3-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night.
Here are three takeaways from a very Trotz-ian game indeed.
1. New York Islanders with a perfect third period
If Barry Trotz were a painter, then Monday’s third period would be his Mona Lisa. If he were a sculptor, it would be his Statue of David. It was the quintessential Trotz period.
That may sound funny, and it is, but it’s also true. The final frame of Monday’s 3-1 victory embodied Trotz-ian hockey in every way. The period, in which the Buffalo Sabres didn’t manage to get a shot-on-goal through to Semyon Varlamov (the first time in Islanders history the team didn’t allow a SOG in a complete period), was what New York Islanders hockey under Barry Trotz has been all about.
It was low-event, to put it plainly. Every night I sit on my couch and take notes during the game. Half-way through this third period, I questioned whether I had been paying enough attention to the game because I had scarcely written a thing about the third. It was just that kind of period.
Monday’s final 20 minutes are the exact type of thing that draws the ire of other fanbases league-wide too. The Islanders sit back too much, they’re boring, they’re too focused on playing anti-hockey. Those would be valid criticisms if this were a rec. league game, but it’s not.
The Islanders ran out to a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes of play, and they decided to punt, figuratively speaking, and force Buffalo to come a full 200 feet with the puck every time they wanted to do anything. They played a good final 20. They didn’t take any undue risks. They outshot Buffalo 12-0 in shots on goal, but even more impressive they only allowed one (1) unblocked shot attempt.
All told, Buffalo posted a .01 xGF mark for Monday’s third period, according to Natural Stat Trick. Now, the Islanders didn’t exactly light the world on fire in that category either, they finished the third with .27 xGF. But the Islanders didn’t have to do any more than what they did. It was the kind of period you’d hear Butch Goring say the words “chip and chase” a lot.
Buffalo looked out of sorts by the end of the third and showed the toll of not having played since January 31. They were still missing half a dozen regulars on Monday night due to NHL COVID protocols, the result of having played the COVID-ravaged New Jersey Devils just before that team’s outbreak exploded.
Despite that, Buffalo is still a dangerous offensive team. So, again, the Islanders played the third period exactly how Barry Trotz would want them to. No unnecessary risks, short shifts, don’t get caught going too deep in the offensive zone. A couple of times the Isles slipped up, but every time they were there to catch themselves before Buffalo could get a shot away.
So, sure, it wasn’t the most exciting thing to happen Monday night. But, it was an Islanders win. Last I checked this is the best ice hockey league in the world, winning is all that matters.