The New York Islanders played their first playoff game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, this past Sunday, where they won 4-3. New York went to overtime where Kyle Palmieri scored the game-winning goal and his second of the night, giving the Islanders the 1-0 lead in the series.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Brock Nelson also picked up one goal each. New York played a good game overall but still must make some changes if they hope to make it far in the playoffs. These are three things they must fix if they hope to continue their run in the Stanley Cup race.
1. The New York Islanders Need Help On Their Power Play Unit
Early on in the season, New York had one of the best powerplay units in the league. However, since that point, their powerplay has fallen short on multiple occasions. Most recently, in game one against Pittsburgh, the Islanders had a four-minute power play in the second period.
During that power play, Pittsburgh was able to make light work against New York. The Islanders couldn’t capitalize and eventually, Pittsburgh’s penalty kill would be successful. This came as no surprise with how their powerplay unit has been playing lately.
If the Islanders hope to be successful, the power play must be something that gets worked on. This unit could make or break New York’s season. Thankfully, they were still able to pull out the win, but this won’t always be the case as the schedule will only get harder after this series, should the Islanders win.
2. The Islanders Need Consistency Among Their Scorers
The consistency with their scorers has been an issue for the better part of this season. New York is full of very good players when they’re playing hot. However, those players tend to also go on a lot of cold streaks.
Take Pageau for example. Pageau is an incredible player on the Islanders and is one of their top scorers. He scored a goal in game one against Pittsburgh. However, prior to this goal, he hasn’t scored since April 24th.
Another big scorer for the team, Mat Barzal, went on almost a month-long cold streak not picking up a single goal from April 1st to April 29.
Nelson who leads the Islanders in goals has also been on his fair share of cold streaks. However, he scored a goal in game one against the Penguins.
The Islanders top scorers, as well as other players on the team, must continue to do their job and score for the team. If the Islanders can achieve this and create a more consistent team, they will be put in a good spot going forward.
3. The Islanders Must Finish Out Games
The third thing they must fix is arguably the most important. New York has trouble finishing out games a lot of the time. They start out hot in the first period, and then once the second period comes around, it’s an uphill battle.
In game one against Pittsburgh, New York was able to pull out the victory in overtime. However, we saw shades of this during the game as well. Nelson scored what should have been the game-winning goal in the third period with roughly five minutes left.
Not even a minute later, New York gives up a goal and allows Pittsburgh to force overtime. Thankfully the Islanders were still able to pull it out, but this could have gone really bad for them. New York must preserve their lead and finish out the game as strong as they start it if they hope to make it far.