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Islanders Get Off To a Rough Start

Islanders Get Off To a Rough Start

There was a lot of excitement regarding this year’s Islanders team ahead of Thursday’s opening contest. But that excitement has quickly turned to mild concern after the Islanders lost their first two games of the season. First it was a 6-3 loss in a back and forth affair with the Carolina Hurricanes. Then it was a sloppy, 5-1 loss to the Florida Panthers on Saturday that dropped the Islanders to 0-2. While it is way too early to hit the panic button, these games did present some potential issues with this Islanders team. 

11 Goals in Two Games

The Islanders have had their success through near foolproof defensive hockey. That was evident last season when the team finished second in the least total goals allowed in the NHL. Fast forward to this season, and the team has gotten off to a rough start in that category. As to where the finger should be pointed for these 11 goals, it’s a bit of a toss-up. On one end, the team defense has looked uncharacteristically sloppy at points. A lot of the goals came off bad turnovers or the Islanders’ defense getting beat in front of the net. But on the other end, Sorokin hasn’t looked especially sharp. At points, he looks unprepared and out of position, morso in the Panthers game than the Hurricanes game. Overall, the parallel poor play of the defense and Sorokin have led to an egregious 11 goals scored against through just two games.

Power Play Woes Continue

One thing consistent about the Islanders is their tendency to get lost on the power play. They were given seven chances in the first two games and went for a combined 1/7. In both games, but more specifically the Hurricanes game, these opportunities came in critical situations when the game was tied or the Islanders were trailing by just one goal. It appears to be the usual issue for the Islanders in trying to generate offense on the power play. 

They spend an excessive amount of time trying to enter the zone and passing around the puck once they’re settled in. Those two struggles normally kill off most if not all of the penalty. Their approach to the power play needs to change because their current approach clearly isn’t working. They need to take the puck straight into the zone and get more shots off when they’re attacking. If their power play doesn’t improve, the Islanders will find themselves losing many winnable games across the season. 

Going Forward

The biggest issue that has to be addressed by Barry Trotz and the team going forward is the defense. The team’s power-play struggles while concerning, aren’t unexpected. And although Sorokin hasn’t been at his best, the defense at its best could mask those struggles by limiting chances. But so far the defensive play has been lackadaisical and easily exploited by their opponents. This Islanders team is built to win relatively low-scoring games. If they’re put in a position where they’ll have to regularly score four-plus to win, they won’t be winning many of those games. That’s why the defense is paramount to improve above all else. If the Islanders don’t improve in this category going forward, they’re bound to have a very disappointing season.

Featured image courtesy of The Miami Herald

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