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Zella: Islanders Need to End March on a High Note

The Islanders woke up on Sunday in second place in the East Division as they continue to jockey with the Washington Capitals for the top seed. As the month winds down, the need to find ways to win and be consistent becomes even more imperative, especially with their upcoming schedule.

“We weren’t good enough, we had too many passengers in tonight’s game,” Barry Trotz said postgame Saturday . “We needed a timely save, we took unnecessary penalties and when you do that against Pittsburgh, you’re not going to have any success, plain and simple.”

Trotz’s club heads into the backend of a two-game set with the Pittsburgh Penguins tomorrow still down defenseman Noah Dobson and without finding some sort of replacement to play beside Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle. The Penguins and Islanders have played the same amount of games, yet the Isles remain two  points again, adding to drama to their last two games against one another during the 2020-21 campaign.

The Islanders have gone 1-3-2 against the Penguins so far, losing three of the six but collecting meaningful points in two of them. In order to create some distance between themselves and the Penguins, along with the Boston Bruins, the Islanders need to take need the two points by any means necessary tomorrow night.

With head coach Barry Trotz’s favorite, Michael Dal Colle, out of the lineup again tomorrow with a lower-body injury, we could see some different looks as the Islanders add yet another wrinkle to their story.

This will also be an important stretch for the first line; Barzal and Eberle have been quiet since Lee went down in a season-ending injury. It appears Barzal is trying to do too much with the puck, leading to turnovers and, ultimately, a lack of offensive chances. Luckily, Oliver Wahlstrom continues his phenomenal rookie season and has picked up the slack, but Barzal is really the one that moves the needle on this club.

Until the first line finds a consistent winger with a slightly higher offensive potential, Barzal and Eberle need to dig deep and find their way on their own.

 

Follow me on Twitter: @jonzella

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