Am I the only one who sings “Hot Potato” when the Isles are on a power play?
The strategy behind constant passing is to confuse the defensemen and make the goalie lose sight of the puck… but that only has a hope of working if you ever, do indeed, shoot the puck. Many teams use this strategy, and it works for them. Many teams are deadly on the power play, and move the puck with quick accuracy across the ice and into the net. Instead, the Islanders constantly dwindle their two-minute man advantage. They don’t even pass the puck quickly! They barely move. The opposing defensemen usually just wait for an opportunity to break up a poor pass.
The Islanders even play Hot Potato when they’re six-on-five. They lost to the Jets on Wednesday because because they lost all their momentum when Griess went to the bench. Once they’re up a man, they sit back and play pass. Throughout the first and second periods, they were on a mission. They had a fire and a purpose, and they wanted to score. For the first half of the third period, they were still throwing a lot toward the net. Then, they scored and slowed down. Barzal took a dumb penalty, the Jets took the lead… and then Griess off the ice so the Isles could play Hot Potato.
So where is the strategy in this? It’s always been like this, but I can’t stand it anymore. Why hasn’t the new coaching staff cracked a stick over their helmets yet and taught them to shoot the puck? It’s always better to strive for quality rather than quantity, but when they’re only averaging about 10 shots per period and 2 shots per power play, they should probably consider increasing quantity, too. And why is Clutterbuck still on the power play? Don’t get me wrong, I love Clutterbuck, always have and always will. He was on the first Islander team I ever followed, and I will cry when he is traded or retires. But he does not belong on the power play anymore. He takes the least shots and often lets the puck slip past him into the neutral zone.
Once they’re up a man, the Islanders fan out away from the net, far away from rebound opportunities. It’s great to watch Barzal skate literal circles around the other team, but it’s even better to watch him score. Boychuk and Pulock have my favorite shots on the team, so it’d be great to see that more, too. Beauvillier is usually in the crease waiting for a deflection that never comes. Why not send it his way? At the very least, they’ll get a rebound and another try.
Does the “Man Advantage Hot Potato” play actually have Barry Trotz’s stamp of approval? I can’t believe that.
Featured Image: Gene J. Puskar