EAST MEADOW, N.Y. — Could the winds of change be blowing on Long Island? New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz appeared to hint at that during practice on Long Island.
Trotz was rotating his lines during the team’s skate on Saturday, with Zach Parise moving to the top line with Anders Lee and Mathew Barzal and Josh Bailey moving down to the third line. Depending on if these lines stay in place it would be the third time that the Islanders head coach has switched up the players on his top line.
Bailey had been placed onto the top line as part of a change to try and jumpstart the top-six, but he hasn’t been able to make the impact on the top line that Trotz would have liked. The lightning rod forward has managed to generate some chances and create some plays for his linemates, but the frequency of that has been far too infrequent.
In 70:46 of playing time together 5-on-5, Lee, Barzal and Bailey have only mustered a 43.62 CF%, 41.04 xGF% and a 36.36 HDCF%, according to Natural Stat Trick.
“I was just trying to move the thought process a little bit,” Trotz said. “I don’t know if that’s where we’ll be tomorrow or the next day, but I’ve got too many guys that are just playing. I need them to be a little better version of themselves. Collectively we’re only as good as our 20 guys that we dress every night. We need everybody pulling on the rope. We have some guys that aren’t pulling on the rope as much as they need to.
“Just trying to change things up a little bit and get their attention.”
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Parise is still in search of his first goal as a member of the New York Islanders, but the veteran has been creating plenty of scoring chances for his team. He’s come close to scoring in Winnipeg, Minnesota and New Jersey and his advanced stats help paint a picture of a player who is driving offense, even if the points aren’t there.
His 60.55 xGF% is first on the New York Islanders and his 55.6 HDCF% is fourth on the team.
The lineup shuffle isn’t too foreign for Bailey, who has played in various roles. He noted the’ comfortability that guys have in playing with different players up and down the lineup.
“With the depth that we have, especially at center, wherever you end up in this lineup is a good spot. That’s the mentality,” Bailey said.
More importantly, it should serve as a wake-up call for a New York Islanders team that dropped to last in the Metropolitan Division following Thursday’s loss to the New Jersey Devils. It had been the first time the Islanders were shut out this season and New York has dropped two straight in rough fashion.
The biggest problem for the Islanders to date has been the lack of consistency, according to Trotz. The Islanders have had spurts where they’ve played their brand of hockey, but getting that consistent effort has been a struggle.
“The consistency when we’re playing systematic Islander hockey with everybody on the rope, you know what you’re getting from first minute to the 60 or 65th minute,” Trotz said. “You know what you’re getting. That hasn’t been as consistent as I’d like and probably for the players as well. I can’t go around the room, and I said this to the players today, I can’t go around the room and go, ‘geez, we’ve got 80 percent of the guys going really good right now.’
“We don’t and we need some guys to all step up.”
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