Coming into Thursday with three days’ rest, the New York Islanders looked disjointed and undisciplined as they coasted to a 4-1 loss in Boston.
Barry Trotz and the New York Islanders used their three-day break from game action to get some practice in with their new additions. Those practices didn’t bear much fruit on Thursday, because as Butch Goring put it so succinctly in the third period of MSG’s broadcast, the Islanders showed up “a day late and a dollar short.”
Here are three takeaways from a let-down effort and a 4-1 loss on Thursday in Boston.
1. Poor First Period Doomed the Islanders Again
The dreaded second period has been the one that’s burned the Islanders for most of this season. Except for lately, it seems like the Islanders haven’t been able to string together consistent efforts in any particular frame.
On Thursday, the first period was the Islanders’ worst, and the second, while still not good, was arguably their best. For obvious reasons that’s a problem, and it’s one that’s becoming a disturbing trend for this team.
The Islanders have struggled to show up on time for games recently. Thursday was no different. The Islanders looked slow, undisciplined, and kind of uninterested in the first period, which as Barry Trotz stated in his post-game presser, is “unacceptable.”
The Islanders were unsurprisingly outpaced in Expected Goals (xG) at 5v5 during the first period, but the .6 margin that they were beaten by was the largest in the game, and that’s only accounting for 5v5 xG, not the numbers the Bruins racked up on their three man advantages in the opening frame. All numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick.
When adjusting our sights to view only the Bruins 5v4 opportunities, we see that they added an extra .72 just off of power-plays, bringing their first-period xG total in all situations to 1.62. By comparison, the Islanders managed just .28 xG in the first during all situations.
With a quick turn-around on Friday, one of the keys that the Islanders should be honing in on in post-game conversations tonight is the need to show more discipline overall. This is a Bruins team that is not the most threatening bunch at 5v5. According to Top Down Hockey, Boston ranks 25th in xGF/60 and 25th in GF/60 across the NHL.
They do possess a top-10 power-play though, and while that unit didn’t necessarily torch the Islanders on the scoresheet, they did create a lot of scoring chances and moved the puck very well in the New York zone.
The Islanders need to buck this trend of showing up to games an hour or two late. In Thursday’s case, they never really had a full period where it looked like they might reverse the effects of their slow start, but regardless, you don’t want to be playing from behind every night. That’s not how this team is built to play, and they won’t win very often doing it.