We've seen Patrick Roy implement changes in the New York Islanders game since taking over, but the one area that remains the same with identical or even worse results has been the penalty kill.
Down 1-0 on Saturday afternoon, Jonathan Huberdeau's power-play goal at 8:38 of the second period gave the Flames a 2-0 lead and changed the complexion of the game. It was the sixth straight game the Isles have allowed a PP goal and the ninth power-play goal in the last 17 times they were short-handed. The unit is dead last in the NHL on the penalty kill at 71.3%.
"It's hard always saying 'we were unlucky, we were unlucky,' but we didn't get the job done, period, said Roy in the post-game press conference. "That was a really key moment in the game because Bo [Horvat] missed a really good chance before that to make it a 1-1 game, and then that goal made it a 2-0 game. When you're digging that hole, it's hard to come back."
The've allowed 45 PPG last season after allowing 39 all of last season. The feeling throughout last year was that if the Islanders just had an average power play, they would have been a 100-point team. This year, that is true of a PKl, which has cost them points more than anything else this season.
The teams they are chasing or battling in the standings for a Wild Card spot are among the better PK units in the league. The Philadelphia Flyers are ranked 3rd (86%), the Pittsburgh Penguins 10th (81.6%), the Detroit Red Wings 11th (81.6%) and the Tampa Bay Lightning 14th (80.9%).
“I hope that we could build from one PK to two PKs to three and then get some confidence,” Roy added. “We’re below 70%, and we know that won't do it for us to be a playoff team and in the playoffs. We need to find ways to do the job.”
For all the good things we're seeing from this team at even-strength, it's hard to fathom them making the post-season without the penalty-kill improving significantly. Roy talks about how the team's mindset has to change, but until they build confidence when short-handed, the rest won't matter.