Islanders: Three Takeaways from Streak-Ending Tuesday Loss at Capitals
By Ryan Grosso
The New York Islanders’ nine-game win streak came to a screeching halt in Washington on Tuesday night, as the Capitals struck twice on the power-play to win 3-1.
The New York Islanders‘ nine-game win streak came to a screeching halt in Washington on Tuesday night, as the Capitals struck twice on the power-play to win 3-1.
Here are three takeaways from the loss.
1. Islanders Power-Play Struggled Again
Outside of Oliver Wahlstrom doing Oliver Wahlstrom things and burying a power-play goal from the inner slot, the New York Islanders power-play was pedestrian at best on Tuesday. That is, unfortunately, not necessarily a new thing either.
The Islanders’ power-play went 0-for-13 in their three game set with the New Jersey Devils this past week, an absolutely horrendous number despite actually getting some pretty good scoring chances throughout the trio of games.
The Islanders had 13 total High-Danger Chances For during the three-game set against New Jersey. Again: they didn’t score on any of them.
Even more impressive, somehow, New Jersey’s penalty kill, which entered the series ranked 31st in the NHL, is still 31st after those three games. That’s how bad the Devils’ penalty kill is, and the Islanders didn’t manage a goal in 13 chances.
But getting back to Tuesday, the Islanders power-play was plagued by all the same old issues. Too much perimeter play with the the power-play unit just standing around, struggling to win face-offs, and then struggling to regain the offensive zone blue line after.
But even when the Islanders top power-play unit had the puck in the O zone, things just looked stagnant for them. They moved the puck without urgency, and were again trying to force play to the top-left side of the umbrella for Ryan Pulock to lean into a shot.
I mean, I get the desire to make that play work. Pulock’s shot is exceptionally heavy, and if he could become an elite power-play force by using it that would make this unit more dangerous. But it hasn’t worked yet, and there isn’t much of an indication that it’s going to start working anytime soon.
It is baffling to me, because I was sure Pulock’s heavy shot would make him a lethal NHL power-play threat way back when the Islanders drafted him, but that has never materialized really. Pulock still hasn’t scored a goal in 2020-21, and while that hasn’t kept him from being one of the top-three defensemen in the NHL this season (that’s right, I said it, and I’m not taking it back) it has hurt the Islanders top power-play unit to not be able to have that weapon.
Earlier this season I did an analysis of the Islanders’ power-play when they were trying out some different formations on the man advantage. I’m paraphrasing here, but essentially they let Mat Barzal roam the ice freely looking to open new passing and shooting lanes where he saw fit, rather than having him stuck to a fixed position, as they do now.
I liked the look of the unit on that night. Their style was fluid, they moved the puck well, and most importantly they even got a shot on goal from Pulock which resulted in a game-winning goal off the stick of Anders Lee. Why they do less of that and more of this, I’m not sure, but Jim Hiller should probably work on that.