The New York Islanders’ intensity seemed to fade with each successive period on Thursday night, culminating in what was a disappointing and frustrating loss in Pittsburgh.
The New York Islanders didn’t bring their best to Thursday night’s game in Pittsburgh, falling by a final score of 4-1 to a Penguins team that got some bounces, but also played a very focused game throughout.
Here are three takeaways from the game that ended the Islanders point streak.
1. Kieffer Bellows Didn’t Provide Much in Return to Islanders Lineup
I don’t want to spend too much time pointing fingers at any one player in particular, because this game felt like a team loss, not one where we should single out individuals. But, Kieffer Bellows was not good in his return to the lineup at either end of the ice on Thursday, and head coach Barry Trotz let him, and the media, hear about it.
“Dal Colle went in and did a really good job. [Oliver Wahlstrom] went in, he’s done a really good job. That was Kieffer’s opportunity.” said Trotz in his post-game presser. That’s about as scathing an indictment of a player’s performance as I’ve heard from Trotz in his tenure with the Islanders.
Just watching the game I had the feeling that, at the very least, Bellows wasn’t going to be back in the lineup on Saturday. But the pointed words from Trotz I didn’t see coming.
Bellows lost his defensive assignment early in the third period, leaving Jason Zucker undefended, who then ripped an unchallenged shot from the low slot to make it a 3-0 game.
Bellows already didn’t bring anything to the table offensively on Thursday night, the last thing he needed to do was get crossed up in his own zone to allow a goal against. If there’s a single way to land in Barry Trotz’s dog house, that’s pretty much it.
I’ve seen a lot of fans complaining about Trotz’s comments already, saying that Barry singled Kieffer out and that he’s harsher on younger players. I don’t disagree with that sentiment, but in this instance, I have to say I find the claim to be pretty baseless.
Other young players like Noah Dobson, Oliver Wahlstrom, and Michael Dal Colle have worked their way into regular roles on this Islanders team, and they’re managing to play within themselves to stay in on a nightly basis.
Bellows didn’t bring anything of note offensively, and he was pretty much directly responsible for a goal against. I’d expect Brock Nelson and Jordan Eberle’s former linemate Michael Dal Colle will be back in the lineup on Saturday.