2. Where has the Islanders Depth Gone?
Mathew Barzal not picking up a point in every single game wouldn’t be as big an issue if the Islanders had a reliable level of depth scoring. Unfortunately, that depth scoring did not materialize on Saturday in Pittsburgh.
J.G. Pageau was the second-hottest Islander on the team for a stretch, and he was still pretty solid last night. But, facing the Crosby line on Saturday, Pageau and his linemates had a tough time getting their opposition out of the Islanders zone at 5v5.
The most unfortunate part of the third line’s Saturday performance was that they could’ve buried the Islanders third goal of the night if Oliver Wahlstrom hadn’t hit the post on a great chance from the slot.
Wahlstrom, who recorded the Islanders fourth-best ixG mark of .18, played a very good game. Despite that effort, he couldn’t bury a goal, but I’m fairly confident those will come. Wahlstrom has only seemed to gain confidence with each passing game, and Saturday he showed a willingness to let his shot rip five times, recording two SOG for the game.
Again though, the Islanders need goals. Desperately. They just scored a grand total of three goals in 120 minutes against the goalie with the worst GSAx stat in the league. Jarry is easily one of the two or three-worst NHL goalies this season, and the Islanders made him look decidedly better than any of his other competition has.
This doesn’t appear to be a problem with any exterior solution coming either. Cap-strapped as they are, the Islanders probably aren’t going to be big movers at this year’s trade deadline, meaning the fixes will need to come from within.
I’ve said it many times, Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey are way too talented to stay as cold as they’ve been. Nelson recorded his first 5v5 goal of the season on Saturday, and Bailey has five assists in the last four Islanders games. So, hopefully, they can continue to build on those performances and get back into the form they were in over the summer.
J.G. Pageau, with the right linemates, has been a force for the Islanders, and I’d expect that will continue so long as Barry Trotz continues giving him useful wingers.
Speaking of Pageau’s wingers, Oliver Wahlstrom is going to find the back of the net again eventually. It was tough luck that kept him from scoring on Saturday. But, if the 20-year-old winger continues to play as he has, he’s going to get more opportunities, and they’re going to start going in.
This is an extremely streaky group, and that can obviously be problematic. But I think it’s important to remember that last night’s result can happen to any team. It happening to the Islanders obviously magnifies their depth scoring troubles, but it truly can happen to anyone.