Sansided

Don't expect Islanders power play to continue impressive run

Washington Capitals v New York Islanders
Washington Capitals v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Things are going VERY well for the New York Islanders power play of late. Since December 1st, the Islanders man-advantage has turned out some truly fantastic results. For the first time in a long time.

In 26 power-play opportunities since December 1, the Islanders have nine power-play goals. That's a 34.6% efficiency. The third-best in the NHL. Only the Leafs and Hurricanes hold a better power play than the Isles since December. Yeah, even the Edmonton Oilers power play hasn't been anywhere as good as the Islanders since December.

Great! I'm sure you can sense a Debby-Downer moment right about now, and while it is coming, it's not totally negative. You'll see what I mean.

New York Islanders: Expect the power play to cool down a bit

This 34.6% power play efficiency is unsustainable. You probably already kind of knew that. There hasn't been a single NHL team to hit a 30+% power play between 2015-16 and 2018-19 (the last five full NHL seasons).

The power play hasn't all of a sudden become wildly better. Here's a comparison of underlying numbers on the power play for the period before December 1 and after November 30:

Pre-Dec 1:
SF/60: 47.57
SCF/60: 82.28
HDCF/60: 19.71
xGF/60: 5.3

Post-Nov 30:
SF/60: 47.12
SCF/60: 64.62
HDCF/60: 21.54
xGF/60: 6.1

When you compare all of those numbers you don't see a big change that indicates why the power play is more prolific now than in the first two months of the season. They're generating a few more high-danger chances, resulting in an extra 0.8 expected goal-for (per 60) while generating fewer shots (marginally though) and far fewer scoring chances.

When you look at things one step deeper, at a player level rather than a team level, that's where you see the "smoking gun" if you will.

Since December first the Isles have nine power-play goals, three of those have been scored by Anders Lee who's sporting a 60% power play shooting percentage since Dec.1. Lee is red hot on the power play right now. His average on the power play since Barry Trotz took over behind the bench is 15.3%.

That clearly won't last and we have to remember there's going to be a letdown on the power play. That's the "Debby-downer" moment.

Islanders fans know their team isn't the top power-play unit in the league. Even when the power play was struggling all fans asked for was a middle-of-the-pack efficiency. Islanders fans would be content with a power-play efficiency of 20%.

And there's no reason to suggest that can't happen through the remainder of the season. They've got the personnel to score one on every five chances. So when the letdown on the power play happens, and it will, so long as they float around 20% for the year the Islanders will be OK.

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