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Islanders: Interesting decision for tonight’s defensive lineup

TAMPA, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 30: Braydon Coburn #55 of the Tampa Bay Lightning throws confetti in the air during the 2020 Stanley Cup Champion rally on September 30, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 30: Braydon Coburn #55 of the Tampa Bay Lightning throws confetti in the air during the 2020 Stanley Cup Champion rally on September 30, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
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We know that Josh Bailey and Cal Clutterbuck won’t be in the lineup tonight for the New York Islanders. Neither of them was in the lineup in the second leg of the Boston back-to-back either.

While there could be some tinkering by Barry Trotz as to who lines up with whom, but we basically know who’s in and who’s on the outside looking in for the Islanders forwards. That may not be the case for the defense.

According to Barry Trotz, Braydon Coburn could step into the lineup tonight as the Isles take on the Philadelphia Flyers. So where does he slot in, and is that a good thing?

Two options for New York Islanders defensive lineup

After back-to-back losses against the Bruins, it doesn’t surprise me that Barry Trotz looks to shake up the roster a bit. The team hasn’t looked like itself since a five-minute power play that fell flat against the Flyers last week.

Scott Mayfield is in the cross-hairs for a number of fans because the veteran D was at fault for two of the Bruins goals last time out. But let’s be honest, it’s not likely that Barry Trotz pulls him from the team. Especially not after this ringing endorsement just earlier today.

So who steps out for Coburn if he steps in? I’d assume it’s Andy Greene. You know, aging veteran left-handed D for aging veteran left-handed D.

Here’s one option for a defensive lineup:

Pelech-Pulock
Leddy-Mayfield
Coburn-Dobson

Now. The one glaring issue with this lineup is having Noad Dobson, who’s still learning the ropes, out there with a guy who isn’t particularly good defensively who is also still learning the ropes of playing in the Islanders system.

*This graph shows excess shots per hour. Red is bad by the way.

There’s a deep-red highway right down the middle of the ice from the blue line to the goal when Coburn is on the ice. That ain’t good. Now, that was this year while playing for the Ottawa Senators, but the picture is clear, Coburn ain’t exactly the best defensive player out there.

Maybe Barry Trotz can still extract some lemonade out of the 16-year vet. But clearly paring him with Dobson might not be the best idea. So perhaps Barry goes big and actually shakes things up a little bit. Here’s option two but this one comes with a lot of moving around:

Leddy-Pulock (48:55)
Pelech-Dobson (38:43)
Coburn-Mayfield (N/A)

Trotz and just like every coach in every sports league craves stability on the back end. This defensive lineup isn’t much stability. I’ve added 5on5 ice time this season next to each pair. You can see those pairs aren’t used very often.

This would certainly insulate the team a bit but let’s be honest, it’s moving a lot around in order to bring in Coburn, who frankly doesn’t need to come in.

Coburn was brought in to provide injury cover rather than anything else. If any coach knows what he’s doing on the blueline, it’s Barry Trotz, but turning to Coburn to provide a spark doesn’t seem a particularly strong plan.

The Islanders may not have won a game in their last two outings, but bringing in Coburn doesn’t seem like a smart idea. We’ll see what Trotz does closer to puck drop but I hope he just keeps the blueline intact rather than make a change for change’s sake.

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