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Five for Five: Needing More

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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. 

It was a much-needed victory Saturday night for the Islanders, as they defeated the Florida Panthers in a shootout for a 3-2 victory.

The win was a nice response to the team falling 5-2 24 hours earlier in Raleigh to a determined Carolina Hurricanes club. It also ended the week on a high note for the fans who, have been a little anxious with the Isles’ slow start to the season.

Josh Bailey and Anders Lee scored the Isles only goals — both potting their second goal of the season — while goaltender Semyon Varlamov bounced back from his rough outing against Edmonton to record his first win in an Islander uniform.

“It was important for us,” Trotz told reporters after Saturday’s game. “We played really hard [Friday] night and didn’t get the result. It’s just sticking with the process.”

As for this coming week, the Isles are hurting a bit and the task at hand shifts to the defending Cup champion Blues and a two-game road trip to Winnipeg and Columbus.

Center Casey Cizikas is dealing with a leg injury and winger Jordan Eberle didn’t skate late in Saturday’s game after his right leg buckled. There was no update on Eberle, but the name floating around as his possible replacement is rookie Oliver Wahlstrom.

Here’s the five things to look out for over the next three games:

Ryan Pulock getting going.

The first five games of the year have not been kind to Pulock. Friday night, he was a -3 and looked overwhelmed by the Hurricanes forwards and their intense forecheck. Pulock has come slow out of the gate — one point in the first five games — and looks like he’s just not moving his feet to generate speed. With the Isles heading to Winnipeg Thursday, maybe that’s what gets Pulock off the deck.

Noah Dobson continuing to adjust.

Trotz scratched Dobson for Saturday’s game against Florida, an interesting decision after the rookie d-man looked comfortable in his first two outings last week against Edmonton and Carolina. But Dobson is still learning life in the NHL, and because the team is deep on the back end, easing him in seems to be the route the organization is taking.   Overall though, Dobson has shown he belongs. His first NHL point — a sweet feed Matt Martin for a tap in goal — exemplified the skill and smarts in his game.

Starting off quicker.

Maybe an indicator of why the Islanders have stumbled (2-3-0) here at the start is that they haven’t been ready to start games. Saturday night was already the third time in the first five games they gave up the first goal of the game. Trotz has already had to acknowledge the poor starts for his club, which this early in the season shouldn’t be an issue. It’s one of those trends that the Isles need to rid themselves quickly before the season kicks into high gear.

Stronger third periods.

It’s been rough to watch the Islanders generate very little in the third period. Outside of the win versus Winnipeg and the small push they had against Edmonton, Trotz’s skaters have been close to invisible in the final frame. In the first game against Washington, they were down 2-1 going into the third and only recorded eight shots. Friday and Saturday, they were on their heels and let their opponent dominate possession. Playing that way is not going to win you many games in this league.

Full 60-minute efforts.

This one plays into the point above. Out of the 16 periods the Isles have played in so far, two of them — the second period Saturday night and second period against the Jets — were their best. Outside of that, the team has really yet to put a complete game together. Sooner rather than later, not showing up from the drop of the puck is going to hurt the Isles in the standings.

Follow me on Twitter at @RTaub_

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