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Islanders six takeaways from Pittsburgh Penguins mini series

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 25: Oliver Wahlstrom #26 of the New York Islanders celebrates his third period goal against the Boston Bruins at Nassau Coliseum on February 25, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Bruins 7-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 25: Oliver Wahlstrom #26 of the New York Islanders celebrates his third period goal against the Boston Bruins at Nassau Coliseum on February 25, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Bruins 7-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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New York Islanders
Josh Bailey #12 of the New York Islanders. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

3. 2/27: Islanders Extra Time Woes Continue

The New York Islanders are a combined 14-9 in 3v3 overtimes in Barry Trotz’s two “full” seasons, 2018-19 and 2019-20, at the team’s helm. That doesn’t count shootouts, just the outcomes decided by the 3v3 game state itself. This season they are 0-3 in OT, and 0-1 in the shootout.

The Islanders 3v3 prowess from the prior two seasons, and the way in which Barry Trotz has added strategy to the 3v3 game state, has not gone unnoticed.

The Athletic’s Dom Luszczyszyn released a great piece on the 3v3 overtime, its stats, and strategies (subscription required).

“In 3-on-3 it’s about possession and decisions and if you don’t have it it’s position and patience.” said Trotz, a member of a group selected because of their success in the 3v3 OT by Luszczyszyn. According to Dom, that was a sentiment echoed by many of the group he spoke to for his article.

So why then does this Islanders team seem to be struggling in the same format in which they’ve been so good? Could it just be other NHL teams have caught up to them in terms of the sophistication of their 3v3 strategy? I suppose to some extent that’s possible, though I wouldn’t declare it the sole reason for why the Islanders are winless through four games in extra time.

I actually think that Saturday’s overtime is a good example of the Islanders not executing Trotz’s 3v3 strategy.

While yes, the Isles did have a couple of dangerous odd-man rushes up-ice, including a J.G. Pageau semi-breakaway, they didn’t maintain as much possession as Pittsburgh did, and what possession they did have didn’t create a single dangerous scoring chance that I saw.

In the end, Saturday’s OT came down to what amounted to an unlucky break. Pageau had his stick in the right position, his gap control was very good for a forward, and in the end, a shot that ricocheted off the blade of his stick fluttered into the Islanders net anyway.

Hopefully, the Islanders can clean up their play in the 3v3 overtimes to come, because that was a decided strength of theirs prior to this season. As Trotz said, it comes down to decisions and possession with the puck, patience, and positioning without it.

Let’s move on to takeaways from Sunday’s game.

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