My apologies for the delay, been under the weather the last few days.
Unfortunately January looked a lot like December for the Islanders as they went 5-7-1 during the month and gave up another 50 goals, only holding one opponent the entire month under 3 goals (Las Vegas) in a game where they held on to dear life at the end. This team has not looked like a playoff team in several months and what’s more concerning is they have only won 5 times in regulation in the 28 games during December and January. The defensive system is awful and Weight has made no adjustments to address it. They are fortunate to even be in the playoff race, but if something doesn’t change soon this team will not be playing in the postseason.
Islanders – SELL
The defense is horrible as the team has allowed 110 goals in the last 28 games (slightly under 4 goals a game) and while it might be slightly better if everyone was healthy, the fact is this system doesn’t work. It allows too many shots and in many cases quality shots. This includes the PK in which they continue to try this ridiculous triangle and one system which leaves the entire back end of the ice open for the other team to do what they want. How bad was the PK in January? 9 more goals in 34 tries, just over 73% for both the month and the season. Tom Gulitti, a writer for NHL.com recently tweeted “My take on the Isles. Some of their trouble clearly is injury & personnel related, but they need a defensive coordinator-type assistant. Their trouble with defensive structure dates back to Capuano’s years. They can’t get games under control consistently when they need to.” This is a perfect summary and something I have mentioned over and over in these articles. This team needs to scrap the system and allow the players to be more aggressive in their own end as opposed to this stand around system that covers zones. It’s pretty clear it doesn’t work.
Defensive System – SELL
The brightest spot on this team has been no doubt Mathew Barzal. He led the Islanders in both assists (12) and points (15) during the month of the January and won the NHL rookie of the month. It’s incredible how good he has become so quickly, but also how much better he is making everyone around him. His line was clearly the top threat throughout the month and Beauvillier had his best month as an Islander on his line scoring a team high 8 goals. He has now moved within 6 points of JT for the team lead and honestly may be the best hope we have in JT resigning.
Mathew Barzal – BUY
The most over hyped player on the team came crashing hard down to earth in January, Josh Bailey. He did not pass the eye test as he scored no goals on the month, was for the most part invisible, especially 5 on 5 and made some really poor decisions with the puck. The possession numbers 5 on 5 also support the eye test, his even strength Corsi is now at 46.8 his lowest since 2011-2012 and his Fenwick at a career low 44.9. I called for selling him last month and that call was spot on. If the Islanders fall out of the race, he should be the first player to go as his value will never be higher. This is someone who will probably ask 6 million a year for 5+ years and the reality is he is simply not worth it. The assist totals look nice when you play with the 2 top goal scorers on the team, but he still is slow and doesn’t create anything with the puck. Honestly my biggest fear is JT walks and we over pay him. That would be a disaster.
Josh Bailey – SELL
What happened to Nick Leddy? Yes we know about the injuries on defense but he has been downright awful and the numbers back that up. 0 goals, 3 assists in 13 games and a team worst -13 for the month and -26 for the year. The 2nd worst player on the team for the year in +/- is Jason Chimera at -9. That difference is astonishing to be honest. 2 months ago we were talking Norris trophy contender, not anymore after clearly having the worst month of anyone on defense. I think some of this is related to the system as the Islanders are spending so much in their own end and clearly he is better when he has the puck than he is in the defensive zone. These numbers are atrocious and he needs to be better.
Nick Leddy – SELL
One player who always seems to get beat up on Islanders twitter is Thomas Hickey. I think he is an effective smart 3rd line defenseman who while is undersized usually makes good decisions with the puck. In a month where Leddy was -13, Hickey along with Pullock were the top Islander defensemen for the month at +4 and on the year he is the co-leader at +11. He also put up 6 points during the month which is a nice contribution from a back end defenseman. In a month where the defense was beyond awful, Hickey was a bright spot.
Thomas Hickey – BUY
Give Anthony Beauvillier credit, he was sent down to Bridgeport and since his recall on January 11th he has been the Islanders top goal scoring threat scoring 8 goals in just 10 games through the month and also leading the Islanders with a +6 during January. It’s a little puzzling to me Weight decided him to move him to line 1 when this line was the dominant line during the month. He definitely benefited from playing with Barzal, but you have to convert the opportunities given and he has done that. Honestly this came out of nowhere, but it was one of the only surprises in the month. Let’s hope Weight comes to his senses and puts him back with Barzal and Eberle.
Anthony Beauvillier – BUY
With how bad the Islanders have been, you have to wonder how in the world is Jason Chimera still on this team? With 2 assists and -6 for the month you have to wonder why Weight doesn’t seem to hold him responsible as he did Ho Sang. To be fair the bottom 6 has been pretty bad and I could have written about any of them, but why not shake things up? Even Ross Johnson made more of an impact in his 3 games. It’s the final year of his contract, he hasn’t been good, it’s time to move on.
Jason Chimera – SELL
What’s on tap for February?