It’s been marked on our calendars for months, and the time is finally here. The New York Islanders 2019-2020 season begins tonight.
It’s finally October, and the gang is back together.
This year’s Islanders team is very similar to last year’s group, with the exceptions of Filppula and Lehner, who left in free agency, and Hickey who was demoted to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers to make room for newcomer prospect Noah Dobson. The other new faces debuting as Islanders this season are Derick Brassard and Semyon Varlamov, both of whom had great showings throughout the preseason.
If last year’s performance is anything to go by, this year’s team should be equally impressive. Barry Trotz, of course, had nothing but good things to say about all the prospects throughout training camp and about the final roster. The slow but steady movement toward a younger defense with the additions of Devon Toews last year, and Noah Dobson this year is a great sign. Trotz and Lou Laomriello are demonstrating their faith in the Islanders’ prospects – hopefully, more of the talent that’s been waiting in Bridgeport and just recently drafted will begin to come up soon.
Besides steady faces, Trotz’s coaching style remains the same as well and somewhat expanded. Rather than focus on line numbers and match-ups with the opposing team, he simply plays the lines that are producing. This year, Trotz said he would run the power play in a similar fashion, without assigning the units numbers.
“There’s no PP1 this year,” he told reporters last week after practice. “Last year there was a one, this year there’s not going to be a one for sure. This year, it’ll be which group is producing. I’m not going to put a one or two on it.”
While it sounds like an unstructured strategy, it does make sense. Assigning numbers to power-play units isn’t really necessary. Whether unit one or unit two is on the ice, the players have the same mission – keep possession of the puck, stay on the right side of the blue line, score. It may be more confusing to keep track of, but what matters is that the Islanders find some productivity on the power play this year after floundering on it all of last year.
Throughout the preseason, the team went just 4 for 26 on the power play, but they did at least show a little more focus in their never-ending passing. Shots were taken.
Of course, it was only preseason. For most of the seven games, the final roster was not playing together. Trotz was also adamant that the team was not working on special teams yet, that they were focusing on training with the prospects and deciding the roster.
Now that the official season is here, fans will hopefully see some results. The boys are back with the same things to prove. So, here’s to a long, fun season.
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