New for the 2019-20 season for Isles Blog, our Rob Taub each Monday will give you his thoughts on five important things to key on for that week’s games for the New York Islanders.
The New York Islanders got in the win column for the first time this season last night after a tough showing in their season opener last Friday against the Washington Capitals.
A convincing 4-1 win over the depleted Winnipeg Jets saw Thomas Greiss make 33 of 34 saves picking up right where he left off last year, the Isles score on their only power play opportunity, big games from forwards Anthony Beauvillier and Josh Bailey, and a more sound performance offensively from Barry Trotz’ club.
“I thought we were a little slow out of the box,” Trotz told reporters postgame. “The whole second period was good, we were playing fast, we had good line change. We could have really pulled away in the second, we had really good looks, shorthanded chances and breakaways.”
The Islanders now shift their focus to three important games this week. What lies ahead is a date with the game’s best player — Connor McDavid — and the Edmonton Oilers tomorrow night, and their first back-to-back of the season Friday in Carolina and Saturday on Coliseum ice against the Florida Panthers and their new head coach, Joel Quenneville.
Here’s the five things to look out for over the next three games:
Mathew Barzal getting his first goal.
Through the first two games of the year, Barzal has been flying all over the ice. He’s had some glorious chances to get his first goal of the season, including a beauty of a move last night in the third period (clip below).
Mathew Barzal is a cheat code pic.twitter.com/mmI1Nzu2Ol
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) October 7, 2019
Barzal has already recorded seven shots through two games, only second to Brock Nelson’s nine. The 22-year-old has had more of a shooters mentality so far and Trotz has been quick to notice it as a good development.
“What I liked about Barzy, he was engaged,” Trotz said after Sunday’s game.
Barzal and his linemates looked more in sync against Winnipeg. Hopefully, that’s an indication of he tallying that elusive first goal very soon. Once that does happen, the floodgates should open and Barzal can become a goal-scoring threat.
More power play chances.
In 60 minutes of play, the Islanders have only been able to draw two power plays — one last night and the other coming early in the second period in the Capital game. Trotz’ skaters should have been awarded at least a few more opportunities through the first two games, but both contests saw the refs keep the whistles away.
It was good to see the Islanders score on their only power play last night — a nice setup that ended with a Josh Bailey tap in — but there really hasn’t been much to grasp from Trotz and assistant coach Jim Hiller’s makeshift units so far.
Two of those opponents the Isles play this week, the Oilers and Hurricanes, have already been shorthanded nine and 13 times since the season began. Those numbers bode well for the Islanders to really get a feel for their power play.
Michael Dal Colle contributing on the second line.
To many, Dal Colle hasn’t looked out of place in his first foray in the top-six. He struggled a little bit with a few matchups in the Washington game but he was very solid against the Jets.
Dal Colle totaled 12:59 of ice time on Sunday. And though that might sound low for a second-line winger, he was very effective with and without the puck. If he continues to play with that way, the points will come.
The leash still seems to be short on Dal Colle to start producing — mostly with Oliver Wahlstrom lurking in the background.
Anthony Beauvillier building off his hot start.
It took Beauvillier, now in his fourth season, eight games a year ago to get on the scoresheet. Already in two games this season, the 22-year-old has a goal and two assists. A great beginning to a year for a player that the coaching staff is going to rely heavily on to generate offense.
In his short stint with newcomer Derick Brassard and veteran Leo Komarov, Beauvillier has looked fantastic. He’s been harder on pucks and shooting when the puck is on his tape. The Islanders are going to need more of that from Beauvillier if they’re going to start racking up wins.
— Eyes on Isles (@eyesonislesFS) October 7, 2019
Returning to where it all ended last spring.
Defenseman Adam Pelech told Newsday’s Andrew Gross that up until he and his teammates opened up their season last week, they had yet to get over how their season ended in Raleigh last May, where, they were swept four straight by the Hurricanes.
This Friday, Pelech and the Isles will get their chance to exact a little revenge when they square off with the Canes for the first time this season. Carolina, under second-year head coach Rod Brind’Amour and who recently named Jordan Staal captain, have had a tremendous start defeating Montreal and two of the East’ best, Washington and Tampa Bay back-to-back.
Emotions should definitely be high for this one, especially from the Isles side. It should also pose as a huge early-season test for an Islander squad that’s expected to be fighting with Carolina for a top-three spot in the Metropolitan Division this year.
Follow me on Twitter at @RTaub_