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Barry Trotz Explains Why he Used Oliver Wahlstrom Sparingly in Isles Latest Loss



Oliver Wahlstrom

It was the talk of the Islanders Twitterverse. Oliver Wahlstrom was limited to just 8:33 of ice time while the New York Islanders offense struggled to find the back of the net in a 4-1 loss in Tampa Bay.

Wahlstrom had been one of the Islanders’ top offensive players through the first 11 games of the season. His five points are top five on the team in scoring and his five goals are second-most only behind Brock Nelson’s seven.

Still, Islanders head coach Barry Trotz hasn’t seen the same detail in his game that led to his success last season. The issues were enough that if Casey Cizikas hadn’t been out due to an illness on Monday then Wahlstrom might not have played at all.

“Wahlly was a guy that if you looked the last couple of games that…there was a ton of mistakes that he needs to clean up,” Trotz said after the loss. “If you remember last year Wahlly was having all the success when he talked about really enjoying the details of the game. Not necessarily about scoring and he was scoring. Now he’s forgotten some of his details in the last little while and it hasn’t been real pretty.

“There are just obvious things that should not happen. He was a guy that might not have been in if Casey wasn’t out, but Casey was out so he got an opportunity to get in there. He was much better today, but his minutes were down.”

Still the decision to essentially bench a player that has created more than his fair share of offensive opportunities this season was a bit of a surprise. The Islanders have been outscored 12-1 over their last seven periods of hockey and they weren’t finding the back of the net much on Monday.

New York generated 21 scoring chances 5-on-5, according to Natural Stat Trick, and only eight were high danger.

“One of the things that you want are guys that are scorers, and you could go through Wahlstrom, (Mathew) Barzal. People that are supposed to generate offense,” Trotz said. “Well if you’re just trading chances that does us no good. And if you stop scoring then that does us no good. You have to have those details so that you’re depositing a little bit more in the bank account all the time and not taking as much out.

“Rather than whatever you make and then spending it on the other end, you get nowhere. That’s what happened with a couple of our offensive players. They’re cheating a little bit and you need your goaltender to steal the game for you. That’s not how the Islanders operate.”

Now with the focus shifting to the road trip finale against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, all eyes will be on how Trotz uses Oliver Wahlstrom. New York dropped the game 5-1 last month in their first meeting of the season with Wahlstrom scoring their only goal of the game.

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