What to do about Islanders shootout lineup?
By Glenn Brewer
For the first time this season, the New York Islanders came out victorious in the shootout. This season has had its struggles, but the shootout has been a problem for quite some time. The Islanders have won just one in three shootout attempts this season.
The shootout against the Philadelphia Flyers required nine rounds to have a goal scored on either side. This was the longest shootout in the NHL this season.
It is no secret that the Islanders are a defense-first squad. The team thrives on the responsibility in the defensive zone before creating offensive chances. Having said that, these are NHL players and Barry Trotz should be able to find three players that can succeed in this skills competition.
New York Islanders Shootout Failures
The Islanders collectively have scored one goal in twelve attempts this season. Dating back to the last three seasons, the Islanders have won eight games that have gone to the shootout.
More specifically, players like Anthony Beauvillier, Brock Nelson, Josh Bailey, and Oliver Wahlstrom have struggled to find a groove. As more of the offensively gifted players on the team, these players must lead in the attempt for the extra point.
Mathew Barzal leads the team with 13 shootout attempts as he is the most obvious choice in the top three shooters. Barzal has been successful just four times in the shootout and is 0 for 2 this season.
A staple of the shootout for the Islanders in recent years is current Seattle Kraken, Jordan Eberle. Eberle's 12 shoot-out attempts the prior two seasons and converted on three of them. This greatly helped the Islanders steal some points last season in the shootout.
Oddly, the Islanders nine round shootout with the Flyers is not uncommon as they went 10 rounds in the shootout with the Flyers last season. Of the Islanders eight shootout victories in the last three seasons, four of them came against the Flyers.
Islanders Best Bets
Historically, the Islanders would be best to start with Barzal, Beauvillier and either Wahlstrom or Nelson. For the most part, Trotz will likely go with any three of the four choices.
Beauvillier has become very predictable this season in his shootout moves. He tends to come in with moderate speed and make a couple dekes deep towards the goalie and handcuffs himself. The dekes could work, but by the time he gets to the forehand, he has nothing but the goalie’s pads to shoot at. It is time to change back to shooting or give someone else a shot in the top three.
Barzal is the most skilled player on the team and should be in the starting three no matter what his success rate. He tends to come in slow with a ton of moves late. Similarly, to Beauvillier, Barzal can handcuff himself with the late dekes. Coming in with his strength in speed would favor his chances of scoring.
Wahlstrom is a sniper as we have seen of late. Not quite the stability of Barzal, but the skill and precise shooting should have Wahlstrom in the starting three each game. For the sake of mixing things up, Wahlstrom can throw in a deke or two, but playing to his shot strength is the way to be consistent.
Nelson is a very talented player but tends to baffle us with his decision-making night in and night out. Depending on the hot hand of the evening, I would keep Nelson as a potential starting three.
Cal Clutterbuck is a player that should get a chance in the shootout. Clutterbuck has a quick release and has shown consistency with accuracy. He will bring a no-nonsense attempt and try to pick a spot to shoot. This would be refreshing after so many failed deke attempts by the youngsters.
With much ground to make on the rest of the conference, it is necessary to grab as many points as possible. It will no longer be acceptable to give away points in the shootout.