Since interim coach Doug Weight took over, the Islanders have been an impressive 10-4-2 while frequently out-shooting their opponents. But the in addressing an offensive shortcoming, a defensive problem is brewing.
When Jack Capuano was fired, the New York Islanders were at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
Between the inconsistent offense, the unreliable goaltending and the players that simply weren’t producing, the Islanders were in an all-around slump.
With the emergence of Doug Weight, the Islanders have found an answer to their dormant offense. Unfortunately, as it seems to be turning out, with addressing one solution, another one is emerging, and quickly.
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In Doug Weight’s first six games coached (Jan. 19 through Jan. 31), the Islanders allowed just 10 goals and, in that span, did not allow more than three per game. In just three games since, the Islanders allowed 15 goals total, two of which were losses.
Inconsistency has not necessarily plagued the Islanders in their strike, the attack is far more structured and the speed has certainly been kicked up a notch. But when it comes to protecting the puck in the other direction, the Islanders are not doing themselves any favors.
It isn’t even about the number shots they surrender. It’s in the quality of chances that they do give up.
Two-on-ones, Three-on-twos, Four-on-twos — you name the odd-man rush and the Islanders probably have allowed it. But the structure they’re playing is the very similar to what Capuano imparted before his departure, and they seem to have it down to a tee on some nights.
The Islanders need to get to work on playing with consistency without the puck. Over the last three games, the penalty kill has been worsening. The Isles have allowed a PP goal over the last four consecutive games.
Additionally, the Islanders have 66 giveaways over their last six games averaging 11 giveaways a night. Puck management in the neutral zone has been a damning factor in causing the uneven rushes from the opponent.
If the Isles want to continue their dominant offense while tightening things up defensively, they will have to be stronger with the puck.
Weight has done an excellent job of bringing accountability into the locker-room. Now he needs to make the skaters account for their defensive mishaps.