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Islanders: Three Takeaways from Game Three Loss to Lightning

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - MAY 18: Head coach Barry Trotz of the New York Islanders during the second period in Game Two of the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG PAINTS Arena on May 18, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - MAY 18: Head coach Barry Trotz of the New York Islanders during the second period in Game Two of the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG PAINTS Arena on May 18, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
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Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

3. Islanders need to find some Goals

After scoring just three goals in 120 minutes, it’s clear the New York Islanders are struggling to beat the Tampa defense and their goaltending ace Andrei Vasilevskiy. That isn’t a major surprise, either. Vasilevskiy is among the best goaltenders in the world, possibly the best, and the Lightning defense is formidable in its own right.

It’s also difficult to say the Islanders haven’t generated any offense, as I’ve previously given multiple numbers which dispute that stance. But despite the lopsided HDCF% share in their favor (14-5 NYI, at 5v5), the Islanders still are wanting for more goals after game three’s 2-1 loss.

Part of that will have to come from the Islanders doing a better job at making what chances they do create more dangerous. Vasilevskiy is an elite goaltender, and it just isn’t going to be easy to beat him when he has clear sightlines on the puck.

Ryan Pulock’s game one blast from the point simply overpowered the Russian goalie, but that isn’t something that can be consistently relied upon to create goals.

The Islanders need to take away Vasileskiy’s eyes, so to speak. Create chaos in the net-front, which they did a pretty good job of in game three. Shoot through multi-layered screens, and redirect pucks on their way toward the net.

That, obviously, is easier said than done. Tampa, for all the talk of their skill and elite puck movers, are also a team who buy-in and sell out to do whatever it takes to win, as was personified by Steven Stamkos blocking a shot late in game three.

The Lightning are good at getting in shooting lanes and taking away point shots. They also take away the middle very effectively in their own end and force opposing offenses to move toward the outside.

The other part of the Islanders finding more goals comes down to a bit of puck luck. New York’s 9.97% high-danger shooting percentage (HDSH%) is dwarfed by that of Tampa’s 20.44% throughout the first three games of this series.

Tampa’s high-danger save percentage (HDSV%) is .900 through three games, as opposed to the Islanders’ .796. At some point, one would figure that some regression to the mean is due. The Islanders are going to get bailed out a bit more, and Tampa will get bailed out a bit less to even those percentages out.

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