“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

That’s right – I’m dragging the Great One into this because it’s something the New York Islanders need to be drilled into their heads.

There will never be another player like Wayne Gretzky. Sure, part of his obscene goal totals was the minimal goalie equipment and the power plays that never ended in old NHL rules, but the bigger part, the main part, was his commitment to shooting the puck. If he had the puck on his stick, it would be sent toward the goaltender in seconds flat. Gretzky understood better than anyone that (1) you can’t score unless you shoot the puck and that (2) rebounds are secondary opportunities.

The Islanders do not seem to understand this. At all.

Coach Trotz values quality, and I am, by no means, disputing that. The better the shot, the better the chance it goes in the net. That’s perfectly sound logic. Quality in aim, speed, formation, strategy – all of this is vital, extremely important for the Islanders to have learned last year and this year.

But they cannot keep waiting for the perfect moments to appear.

Halfway through the season, the Islanders only have three plays: Barzal figure skates around the offensive zone until everyone catches up to him and he loses all his options; Beauvillier, Komarov, etc. send the puck into the crease from behind the net and it’s batted away by defense; the defensemen play hot potato until they fumble the puck, commit an errant pass, or shoot it well wide. The Islanders’ play has become so obvious and expected that they’re practically defending themselves.

As Butch constantly coaches on-air, the Isles need to shoot the puck more. Nothing is ever going to happen unless they send the puck to the crease. No tip-ins, no wrap-arounds, no rebounds, no goals. And what is so wrong with the rebound goal? Why can’t Barzal shoot the puck and let his wingers pick up the rebound as they follow him in? Where are the players like Lee who used to battle in front of the screens and deflections? Sometimes, even with all the quality in the world, what you really need is a little luck.

Yes, the Islanders could benefit from trade. A package deal of some rookies for a young sharp-shooting forward, perhaps. But it’s highly unlikely that that’s going to happen any time soon. If last year is any indication, this current team has the talent to win hockey games; they just need to start acting like it again.

So from Gretzky to Goring: “Good things happen when you throw the puck toward the net.”

Featured Image: Derek Blake / World Sports Network
Comments are closed.

Check Also

INTERVIEW: Clark Gillies and Bobby Nystrom on How to Win the Stanley Cup

New York Islanders legends Clark Gillies and Bobby Nystrom sat down with Chris Peters to d…