After dropping their first two games of the season, the New York Islanders look to find their winning ways at the Barclays Center this Sunday against the equally struggling Anaheim Ducks.
- New York Islanders (0-2-0, 0 pts)
- Anaheim Ducks (0-2-0, 0 pts)
Today, 6:00 PM on MSG+, PT25
Barclays Center, New York City, New York
Islanders Optimistic Despite Losses
0-2-0 is not how the Islanders imagined starting the first two games of the season. After an abysmal display against the Rangers which included the Islanders killing four of five penalties and not scoring on one of their four power plays, they went into DC hoping to change their luck.
There was some good and a lot of bad in the past two games for the Isles, which both included debuts for their 2015 first round draft picks: Anthony Beauvillier and Matthew Barzal. Management decided to keep the two youngsters on for a nine-game trial to see where they’d wind up with the organization.
Despite some bad shifts overall and a brutal first shift by Barzal, they left some impressions with management. This included Beauvillier registering his first NHL point, an assist on Brock Nelson‘s late goal in the third period against the Rangers.
Slow To Boot
The most prominent and notable problem the Islanders have had the past two games is being able to get the puck out of the neutral zone and into the offensive zone. The breakout is not consistent and they cannot maintain consistent O-zone time. It is evident Capuano enjoys the dump and chase play considering that nearly every time they enter the zone it’s shoved right into the corner.
For obvious reasons, this is not working. The Islanders managed little offensive pressure against Washington, save for the last few minutes of the third period which showed desperation. There was a good push in the third period of the Rangers game, but after giving up four, and then five goals that aren’t good enough. This, in turn, brings us to the defensive end of things.
The defense has taken some time to wake up and it was better overall in the Washington game, but Leddy and Hamonic have had brutal starts to the season. Hamonic especially, who on two key misplays allowed the game-winning goals in both games. He let Kreider skate past him after receiving a stretch pass to make it 3-2. He also wiped out on a play against Daniel Winnik that allowed him to score his second of the game.
In terms of advanced stats, Boychuk had a horrid start in the game against the Rangers but was the Isles best defenseman against Washington.
Despite a sluggish start to the team in front of them, the two netminders put in good work in their first games back. Halak looked solid against the Rangers despite letting in four at face value. He kept the game 2-0 after the first two periods and can’t be blamed for the ones that slipped through.
Greiss had a phenomenal start as well posting a .929 save percentage and a 2.07 GAA in his first game. The goaltending is definitely off to a great start and is waiting for the team to catch up to them.
Despite these setbacks, one important thing to remember is this: It’s only been two games! To compare, the Islanders went 0-1-1 in last season’s first two games as well. Even the Blackhawks started 0-2-0, did they hitting the panic button? No.
These observations are in a laughably small sample size, for all we know the Islanders can hit the ice a completely different team when they lace the skates up against the Ducks tonight. The forwards need just a little retooling, the potential is visible but it’s being stifled by a lack of possession in the offensive zone.
Count on seeing Jack Capuano make some changes to his lines, but not many. The only thing to adjust after the small road trip to start the season is taking Chimera off of the first line.
The Top Line
Yes, you did read that. Jason Chimera, the enforcer who was signed as a Matt Martin replacement, was playing top line minutes with John Tavares. This isn’t a knock against the ice cheetah, but a critique against an experiment that didn’t work and needed to end much sooner.
Who slots in on the right side of Ladd and Tavares? Why PA Paren- oh, right, my mistake (take it easy Isles fans, I jest). The Isles have a number of talented forwards who can make the jump to the right side: Bailey, Prince or Strome to name a few who have slotted in before. The Isles should strongly consider giving one of the kids some Tavares time before they are sent down. Barzal is a right handed shot, so it would be an easy enough fit to slot him in on the right side.
Either way, feel good about tonight Isles fans. It’s the home opener against a team struggling as well in the Anaheim Ducks. Puck drop is at 6pm tonight, with pregame festivities starting at 3:30pm outside the Barclays Center. A rested Jaroslav Halak will start in net tonight for the Isles.