In this time of reflection, renewal, and hitting the reset button, what do we think the New York Islanders’ New Year’s Resolution should be?
The team performed surprisingly well on the West Coast road trip, winning three out of four games. They absolutely fell apart in Vegas but played strong in Colorado, Arizona, and Dallas. Still, there’s always room for improvement, especially for the Islanders.
For starters, there’s still the problem of the power play. The Isles are 25th in the League with a power play percentage of only 15.7. Out of 108 opportunities in the first half of the season, the Isles only have 17 power play goals. In the last few months, they had a goal drought through 28 power plays. Lee leads the team in power play goals with seven to this point, and only a handful of other players only have one or two goals each.
The man-advantage situation has improved recently – the Isles scored in three power play opportunities during the West Coast road trip – but is this sudden burst of productivity enough? Should the team start the new year with power play improvements primarily in mind?
The Isles’ defense is another area that needs desperate improvement. Beside overall skating with no urgency whatsoever, the main issue in the game against Vegas was defense. No matter how hard they tried, the Isles simply could not get the puck out of their own zone. They crowded their own goalie so he couldn’t see the shots. They made sloppy passes and lazy check attempts. The goal that was overturned for offsides only went in because Pulock collided with Griess – Griess made the save, until Pulock’s fall put the puck in his own net. This atrocity of a game simply highlighted issues that have plagued the Isles for years. So, will overcoming these defensive issues be the focus of the Islanders new year?
Or did the Isles get an early start on their New Year’s Resolution by calling up Ho-Sang and Toews? Could they finally be phasing in the young players overdue for their NHL debuts? Despite his initial hesitance to play Ho-Sang, Trotz has had nothing but good reviews of the rookie who has a goal in his first five games up. After the game in Dallas, Trotz gave Toews’ first NHL performance a glowing review, too. Does this mean Dal Colle, Bellows, and Aho might finally get some real NHL time? Perhaps Islanders management is starting to see that the young players are ready, and that a balance of youth and veterans on an NHL team makes all the difference.
So, let’s hope that the new year brings some form of Isles resolution. A soaring power play, an awake defense, or a decreased average team age… Hopefully at least one, if not the Christmas miracle that would be all.
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