Islanders: Finding a way forward after two losses to Penguins
The New York Islanders ended an eight-game point streak with back-to-back regulation losses to the Pittsburgh Penguins. With 19 points from 17 games, the Islanders are by no means out of the playoff race. Four of the eight teams in the East sit with 19 points. But the losses have fans thinking, now what?
What do the Islanders do in order to get W’s back on the board? It might sound crazy, but they have to play exactly as they did in their most recent loss to the Penguins, because nine-time-out-of-ten they win that game.
New York Islanders need to play the same game again
Yes, the Islanders lost their last game in regulation against the Penguins, but the Isles did everything a team like theirs should do to win a game.
They held possession of the puck (57.78 CF%), they created most of the scoring chances and opportunities (56.25 SCF%, 68.42 HDCF%, and 63.77 xGF%), they dominated in the faceoff circle (60% FOW), and they were physically dominant (53 hits to 30 for the Pens).
(All stats aside from hits taken from NaturalStatTrick. Hits stats from NHL.com.)
Through their efforts, the Islanders would carve out a number of chances and buried two goals. They played well enough to win this game. At worst they should have taken a single point home. But as Barry Trotz stated in the post-game, life isn’t always fair.
Look, I know a number of fans will say: “they would have won this game if they had a top-tier goal scorer.” And they probably aren’t wrong. Add someone of Patrik Laine‘s talent to this roster and the game could very well end with a win for the Isles. But they don’t have that player. At least not yet. And like my colleague Matt O’Leary said today, getting an elite top-tier goal scorer isn’t exactly easy.
Until they do get that top-tier goal scorer, this game plan gives them the best chance at success. Look at the results over the last two years.
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So the best way to win is to do exactly what the Islanders did on Saturday against the Penguins. I know it doesn’t sound comforting to say the best way to win going forward is to do what the Isles did in a loss. But the type of game Barry Trotz’s men played on Saturday is exactly the type of game they need to play in order to be successful.