Nine games in the books, and we’re starting to get a pretty good idea on what the New York Islanders are going to be all about this season.
Standing at 4 wins, 4 losses, and 1 overtime loss – the Isles have shown both the highs and lows of completely over-hauling both a front office and coaching staff.
Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle
Barry Trotz is obviously still playing the “get to know you” game with his players. This is evident by both his post game comments, as well as his recent propensity to shake up his line combinations.
This isn’t an odd occurrence by the Stanley Cup winning head coach, as per his previous stints in both Nashville and Washington.
Fans are brought back to the past 5 years where this was a normal weekly occurrence – but they need to understand that this is a regime that’s literally working off of this small sample of live games, on top of previous tape that they’ve dissected.
The Barry Trotz – Anthony Beauvillier relationship has been a hot button for fans and experts alike.
Beauvillier’s been subject to the majority of the shuffling, since his slow-start has been one of the more pronounced on the squad.
Saturday’s reunion in Philadelphia with Jordan Eberle and Mat Barzal, showed to be a welcome one for Beau’s game. Anthony finally broke through with his first goal of the year via a tick-tack-t0e play with his two forward mates.
The defense has gone through the same game of solitaire early on. Most recently, they finally seem to come to some sort of semblance.
The emergence of Scott Mayfield as being a consistent back-stop as well as aiding on the offensive end has definitely been a welcome surprise.
In his 6 games played, Scott has put together 1 goal and 5 assists for 6 points, as well as posting a plus-6 plus/minus rating. His previous season high in points was 12 in last years campaign. Time will tell if the Isles have struck gold, and his consistency remains, but as of now – they’ll take whatever they can get from this back-line.
Money Well Spent In The Crease
Welcome to the New York Islanders, Robin Lehner.
The former 2nd-round pick of the Ottawa Senators has been everything the Islanders could have wanted for the one-year $1.5 million dollars they shelled out in the off-season.
In the 6 games that he’s started, he’s put up a 3 wins and 2 losses, and an OT loss – but more importantly, the big-Swede has posted a 2.39 GAA and a .929 save-percentage in 352 minutes played.
Robin has looked drastically different than the player we’ve seen in Buffalo. The Mitch Korn/Piero Greco effect continues to be very evident in his positioning and ability to stay under-control. He’s having to rely less on his athleticism by properly establishing his angles and maintaining body position when he’s having to maneuver east-to west. Add that discipline to a massive 6’4 frame, and you have a prototypical NHL goaltender that any franchise would kill for.
In following Lehner throughout his NHL career, it’s really refreshing to see – and is a testament to both Lehner’s dedication to buy into Korn and Greco’s concepts and teachings.
His poise between the pipes, thusfar, continues to impress, and hopefully he’ll continue on this correct path to re-establish himself as a premier NHL tender.
Who knows… Maybe his play will subsequently convince Lamoriello to save his money on the coveted Sergei Bobrovsky from Columbus, who is a free-agent after this year.
Yes, wishful thinking.
Nick Leddy, Where For Art Thou?
The “Nick Leddy” Situation is a hot-topic as of late in #IslesTwitter land, and also among popular hockey pundits. Leddy is arguably the defender who has been struggling the most to find his way throughout the new Trotz scheme.
Should the Isles start testing the waters for the speedy puck moving defenseman if interest is truly there from other teams throughout the league?
My opinion… No, not a good idea.
This has been a fact for many, many years – particularly in the National League.
Top-4, NHL ready (or currently playing), under 30-years old, proven puck-moving defenders are NOT easily found or obtained. They take years to develop when you think you’ve found one (minus freaks-of-nature like Miro Heiskanen in Dallas and Rasmus Dahlin in Buffalo).
If this is even a consideration – Islanders brass better be more than certain that a guy like Devon Toews can fill that void NOW, and that they’re getting a proper return for immediate impact on that offensive front.
Has Leddy struggled? Yes, of course…No question about it. But again, this is a short amount of time for a proven guy in a new system. I’m confident he’ll come around at some point. Of course, more sooner-than-later is going to be a requirement if the Islanders want to remain competitive.
The 27-year old speedster is yet to chalk up a point this season in his 9 games played, and is currently sporting a minus-3 plus/minus rating. Nothing to write home about, that’s for sure.
The positive for Leddy is it appears that Trotz is remaining patient with his play. His lack of offensive production and his sometimes seemingly lost nature, within the system, hasn’t deterred the head coach from providing him with his top-4 minutes.
Slow And Steady Wins The Race
There’s no sign of Lou Lamoriello and crew losing focus or jumping the gun on bringing in some new blood. With Devon Toews continuing to impress in the AHL, and the sudden emergence of guys like Michael Dal Colle and Kieffer Bellows continuing to contribute – the kids may force the hand of Trotz when the time comes to “shake things up”.
As of now, it looks like we’re going to get another ten-plus games of what we’re currently seeing.
This is going to be a marathon, that’s for sure.
Stay strapped in folks. The long ride continues.
Follow/trash me on Twitter – @brasqo