The New York Islanders held a 45-minute penalty kill meeting during practice ahead of their game against Boston tonight.
The Islanders are coming off an intense 4-3 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins — the first time the Islanders have lost back-to-back games this season.
More than anything to take away from their contest in Pittsburgh was their specialty teams burying them. Going 0-for-4 on the power play and 0-for-2 on the penalty kill will only damage a team, like when the Isles were knotted at one and flubbed several power play opportunities.
The penalty kill’s lack of success has been killing the Islanders, allowing PPG’s in six-straight games.
#isles have allowed PP goals in six straight games (10 PP goals total) and in 8 of the last 9 games.
— Eric Hornick (@ehornick) December 8, 2017
Coaches held a 45-minute penalty kill meeting, now working on PK on ice.
— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) December 8, 2017
Of course, having Nikolay Kulemin out for the season won’t help, and Casey Cizikas had a brief stint being day-to-day until Thursday night’s game. The two fourth-liners anchor the Isles PK, and are great at it. Their finish at the conclusion of the 2015-16 season placed them fourth overall in the league.
When speaking to Newsday, general manager Garth Snow gave his insight into the Isles recent PK struggles.
“We’re a team that can score goals, so that’s not an issue. Everyone was pulling their hair out when we started the season 0-for-20 on the power play and we were able to get that working. We should be able to do the same with the penalty kill and get our goals-against down.”
There’s obviously no shortage of confidence in the Isles locker room, and why not? Prior to their small ‘skid’ (1-2-1 in their last four games), they were 7-2-0 in their last nine games. They maintain the league’s second-best offense, and the top-six forwards have been absolutely lights out.
Hell, even Brock Nelson seems to be waking from a deep slumber. Prior to scoring two goals in the Isles’ last three games, the streaky forward had just one goal in 16 games. Him finding a consistent scoring touch is crucial to the Isles’ depth.
So, until the puck drops in Boston, the Isles will be hard at work reinforcing their specialty teams. We’ll see how they’ve done after tonight’s showdown in Boston.