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Islanders: Too early for calls to play prospect Robin Salo

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 26: Robin Salo #45 of the New York Islanders scales the puck in against the New York Rangers during the first period in a preseason game at Madison Square Garden on September 26, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 26: Robin Salo #45 of the New York Islanders scales the puck in against the New York Rangers during the first period in a preseason game at Madison Square Garden on September 26, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The New York Islanders didn’t have a particularly strong game against the Carolina Hurricanes, specifically on the defensive side of the puck. You know, where they typically excel. They scored three goals, which is usually enough for a Barry Trotz team to win, but the D let them down.

Specifically, the play of Zdeno Chara and Andy Greene seemed to be a particular issue. Because both are left-handed defencemen fans pleaded to have Robin Salo make his debut for the club as soon as possible.

And while I too want to see Robin Salo step into the NHL as soon as possible, the Isles problems from last night won’t be fixed by adding Robin Salo to the team.

New York Islanders were not a Robin Salo away from winning

Look, I get that fans were impressed with Robin Salo’s camp. He was very impressive. The puck-moving second-round pick was much closer to the NHL than many had believed him to be. But adding him to the roster for last night’s game doesn’t necessarily end in a win for the Isles.

The Islanders issue was an inability to be strong on pucks and being strong in front of the net. Neither of which are Robin Salo’s strengths as a defenseman.

It’s not to say Salo is poor at that side of the game but his strength is being a puck transporter, transitioning from defense to offense, and creating offense. Salo’s skating is certainly better than either Greene or Chara’s but again, that wasn’t the Isles issue last night.

When it comes to Greene he wasn’t able to clear the crease or get body position on Andrei Svechnikov (after making a weak play on the puck in the slot) on the Canes opening goal. A few minutes later he was overpowered by Jesper Fast who redirected in the Canes second goal.

I’ve seen some complaints about Chara’s skating after the Neiderreiter goal, but honestly, it wasn’t Chara’s skating that was the problem. He just bit way too hard on a nice fake from Nino Niederreiter.

While that is ofc course a problem, let’s not just equate Chara was the LHD on that play and messed up so having Salo (a LHD) in this position would have yielded a different result. Chara was the lone man back on this play after Dobson pinched in the offensive zone. If Salo is on the ice, he’s the one pinching in the O-zone, leaving his RHD partner behind. A RHD which is likely Scott Mayfield.

Mayfield wasn’t exactly at his best last night either.

The Islanders need to sort out their defensive structure at the moment. Both Greene and Chara weren’t at their best. Without a strong defensive structure putting Robin Salo into this mix and essentially asking him to fix it is not a sound strategy or even fair. It’s certainly not how Barry Trotz and Lou Lamoriello do things.

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