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Islanders aren’t using Kyle Palmieri correctly on power play

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - MAY 06: Kyle Palmieri #21 of the New York Islanders skates against the New Jersey Devils during the second period at the Nassau Coliseum on May 06, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - MAY 06: Kyle Palmieri #21 of the New York Islanders skates against the New Jersey Devils during the second period at the Nassau Coliseum on May 06, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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I spotted an interesting discussion over Twitter last night. The entire thread centered around how the New York Islanders aren’t using Kyle Palmieri correctly on the power play.

Since Palmieri (and Zajac) joined the Islanders via trade, the power play has five goals for 34 opportunities. That’s a 14.7% efficiency on the man advantage. That’s not good enough.

Maybe if the Islanders played Palmieri in a position where he’s found incredible success in the past, they could get the best out of him and the power play. It makes sense, so let’s take a quick look at where the Islanders are using him and where might be his ‘best position’ on the power play.

New York Islanders need to use Kyle Palmieri in his best spot on the PP

Since being traded from the Devils to the Isles, Palmieri has 27:13 of power-play time (fifth for forwards), he’s second in shots with six, and has a goal to his name. And look, those numbers aren’t terrible but they still aren’t helping the power play be as effective as it could be. Clearly. Again, the Isles are 5-for-34 since he’s arrived.

So, how can the Islanders fix that? We’ll they can start using Palmieri more as a perimeter shooter, where he’s stationed within either faceoff dot, so he can use his God-given talent to rip puck on and into the net.

Look, currently, Palmieri is used on the interior of the power play in the slot. That’s not just the eye-test talking. HockeyViz’s shot location graph shows where Palmieri is shooting the puck on 5on4 power plays, and it’s between the circles.

Three of his 17 tracked shots are from within the left circle and one from the right. That’s just over three-quarters of the shots he’s putting on net coming from inside the dots. While that’s usually a good thing (shooting from within the dots is prime high-danger area), it’s not working.

Cause that’s not where Palmieri is at his best. Palmieri’s favored position – or the one where he’s most effective – is along the wall and inside the faceoff circles. Either side is fine.

Now, how do I know his preferred spot isn’t in the middle but on the outside? A look at the tape can give you a quick confirmation of that.

Here’s a compilation of Palmieri’s 25 goals from the 2019-20 season. He scored eleven on the power play that year (the fourth time in his career).  Ten of those eleven goals come from within either faceoff circle (it’s an even split at five from the left and five from the right).

I know Barry Trotz loves creating as many high-danger chances as possible, but it’s just not working. Since April 8, the Isles have created 26 high-danger chances on the PP. That’s the seventh most in the NHL. They’ve only converted four which ranks ninth. Their 21.05 high-danger shooting percentage ranks 15th in the league.

Something has to change.

It’s clear that the Islanders aren’t using Palmieri where he can be the most useful when it comes to the power play. It will be interesting to see if Barry and special team’s coach Jim Hiller make the change with two games left in the regular season, if they make the change by the playoffs, or if they even do it at all. I hope they do it ASAP.

(All advanced analytics from NaturalStatTrick.)

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