Through the New York Islanders first two regular season games, they have scored eight goals and have mustered 71 shots on goal.
Although the New York Islanders were held to just one goal in Thursday’s season-opening 3-1 loss to the Florida Panthers, the offense came alive on Saturday, potting seven against a weak Anaheim Ducks hockey club in a 7-1 routing.
As much as Islanders fans want to overlook the loss to Florida, a tough loss to a juggernaut, Islanders fans should be skeptical of their domination of the Ducks Saturday.
No, this is not to say that the contentment level with their performance Saturday should be lower. It was an impressive performance that showcased just how dynamic this new aggressive system under head coach Lane Lambert could be.
The Islanders played their game from start to finish and gave the Ducks no chance, so the result was more about that than about what the Ducks were–or weren’t–doing.
If you want to pull a negative from the first two games of the season it’s the forwards lack of execution.
Despite averaging 4.0 goals per game out of the gate, a very small sample size with a tough loss and a lopsided win, six of their goals have come from defensemen.
The Islanders have three defensemen on the team that have two goals each, in Noah Dobson, Scott Mayfield, and Robin Salo.
Out of the Islanders’ 71 shots on goal through the first two games, 27 shots came from the backend (38%).
There was no question this season that the defense would need to be more active in the offense if the Islanders were going to have success.
A season ago, the defense combined for 32 goals of the New York Islanders’ 229 (13.97%), so it is encouraging early to see the defense playing a part, with six of the first eight.
But the concerning part for the New York Islanders, through two games, is that the forward group has just two goals on the season. Oliver Wahlstrom scored on a breakaway Saturday, and the other forward goal came from Anthony Beauvillier, who tapped one in blocker-side backdoor after a strong Ryan Pulock setup from below the left circle.
One could say that the backend’s offensive production masked the forward group’s scoring issues.
And so far, that would be correct.
There would be more concern if the Islanders forwards were not generating scoring chances, but that has not been the case, which is what head coach Lane Lambert said following Monday’s practice.
“As long as we’re getting the chances, we’re going to eventually have some production from that standpoint,” Lambert said. “It would be more concerning if they didn’t generate chances.”
In the season-opening loss, the New York Islanders forward group created 27 individual scoring chances, 22 at even strength with no goals to show for it.
In the dominating win Sunday, the forward group, with few changes (Wahlstrom and Clutterbuck back in, Kieffer Bellows out), the Islanders forward group created 30 individual scoring chances, 20 at even strength, with two goals.
Quick math shows that the forward group created 52 individual scoring chances, 42 at even strength, and potted just two goals.
Does the production from the backend so far this season alleviate some pressure off the forwards?
“I mean, we still got to produce,” Anthony Beauvillier shared Monday morning. “It’s good to see them produce, and we’re obviously having them more in the play now, and it’s good that you get rewarded from it.”
“I think we’ve played two really good games, got a win out of the two, and just gotta keep building our game the same way. And like I said, we have the chances, and as long as you have chances, that means you’re doing some good things offensively, so just want to keep that going.”
There are only two New York Islanders lines that, through two games, have played more than 10 minutes together. That is the minimum amount of minutes a line must play for the site Money Puck to track production and expected production.
The two lines that Money Puck has been able to track are the two top lines for the New York Islanders.
Here’s what the stats show when that line was on the ice through the first two contests:
-17.7 minutes played, 0 Goals, 1.9 Expected Goals For, 27 shot attempts, 22 shots on goal
-19.1 minutes played, 1 Goal, 0.7 Expected Goals For, 15 shot attempts, 12 shots
NYI Hockey Now caught up with Zach Parise following practice to discuss his line’s play through the first two games.
“The looks…the looks have been pretty good. I would like to cash in on a few of them,” Zach Parise shared. “I think Barzal has done a really good job entering the offensive own with possession.”
Zach Parise has six shots through the two contests.
“We’ll continue to work, find out where each other are. I think we can communicate a little better in the offensive zone.”
The New York York Islanders face a San Jose Sharks hockey team Tuesday that is 0-4-0 to start the season and has been outscored 14-6, so we will see if the forwards can execute more against them.