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.
Things haven’t been the prettiest for the Islanders of late. Over their last eight games, the club has sported a 3-4-1 record; three of those four regulation defeats coming at the hands of teams at the bottom of the standings. But even with that mark, the team has played better despite lines being altered.
“I liked our effort, I liked a lot of things we did. We just couldn’t find the back of the net enough and couldn’t stop their power play tonight,” head coach Barry Trotz’s said after a tough 3-1 loss Saturday night in Dallas.
During this rough stretch, Mathew Barzal has continued to carry an Isles offense. The team leader in points with 25, Barzal has recorded three goals in his last five games. His effort in overtime last week, tiring out the Golden Knights’ Jonathan Marchessault in the extra session, was what led to Ryan Pulock’s game-winner on the power play.
At the other end, goalie Thomas Greiss has struggled of late. In four of his last five starts, the 34-year-old soon-to-be free agent has allowed three goals in four of his last five starts. Those numbers might seem unbecoming because of how reliable Greiss has been so far this year, but not all the blame should be placed on his shoulders.
With three games on the slate this week, two down in South Florida and an afternoon matinee Saturday versus Buffalo, Greiss alone will most likely get his chance to get right. The team in front of him? They’ll have the opportunity to string together some consistent performances and bank some much-needed points with the Flyers and Penguins starting to inch closer to them in the Metro Division.
Here are the five things to make sure you’re watching:
Nick Leddy’s absence?
If you saw the end of Saturday night’s game against Dallas, you witnessed Leddy awkwardly being twisted at center ice. The more you watch the clip, the more you expect the worst outcome.
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) December 8, 2019
Leddy’s status was confirmed as day-to-day, but if he misses the next couple too, we might finally get a heavy dose of rookie Noah Dobson. Dobson, who has only appeared in seven games all season, has only gotten the green light from the coaching staff; that being his NHL debut against Edmonton. The 19-year-old does have the offensive chops that can help provide some stability not just at even strength but on the power play too.
The defense continues to contribute offensively.
The Isles’ offense hasn’t been pumping in goals like they were a few weeks back. That has opened the door for some of the defense to get into the act. Both Scott Mayfield and Ryan Pulock have been very good recently; Mayfield having three points in his last three games, Pulock collecting four points in his last five games. Leddy possibly being sidelined, will add some more pressure on the D to be more active. This is where Adam Pelech or Devon Toews can truly flex their muscles. Both of them have underrated offensive abilities dating back to their days in juniors and at the college ranks.
Figuring themselves out on the road.
This might be the one negative that has alluded Isles fans all season. Last season, the Islanders were one of the most stout teams when they were the visitors. To be frank, this current group hasn’t been a great road team this year, even with a five-game winning streak in their back pocket from during their 17-game point streak. Trotz’s crew has just one win in their last six road games — that one didn’t come easy too — and are only 7-5-1 away from Nassau Coliseum/Barclays Center. Being technical, you can say their 7-6 which is a wild difference compared to their 12-2-1 record on home ice. Having to go into battle in two buildings they always have difficulty and coming away victorious hopefully is the remedy to getting the Isles going for the rest of the season.
Continuing to dominate the Atlantic.
The Islanders have had the Atlantic Division’s number. Up until suffering their first loss in Montreal last week, they were 8-0-0 against the entire division since the season started.
No Place Like Home.
In case you weren’t aware, when the Isles welcome the Sabres to the Coliseum later this week, it will have been 62 days since they last suffered a regulation loss on home ice. Yep, the Islanders are 11-0-1 in their last 12 home games. Another incredible streak that has involved winning games in a variety of fashion. That streak needs to continue, not only because accumulating points at home can help later in the year, but also to establish that huge home-ice advantage that visiting teams will come to fear.
Follow me on Twitter at @RTaub_