New York Islanders
3 Burning Islanders Questions Ahead of Ducks Game
LOS ANGELES — With the New York Islanders not skating ahead of their game against the Anaheim Ducks and given how the Los Angeles Kings game went, there’s some questions that need to be discussed.
Should Martin Be a Healthy Scratch?
If you missed the game on Monday, the start of the second period is where the game turned.
The Islanders entered the second up 1-0, but back-to-back penalties from Matt Martin and Zach Parise led to another two goals against, and before you could blink, the Islanders were down 3-1.
After Rasmus Kupari punched Alexander Romanov in the face, a player wearing a full face shield, Martin went at him, ending the scrum by throwing Kupari’s helmet toward the penalty box.
And that’s a no-no, an easy unsportsmanlike penalty, whether he meant to be malicious or not.
Here is the incident of Matt Martin throwing Rasmus Kupari’s helmet toward the penalty box last night. Game shifted immediately thereafter. pic.twitter.com/jlM88gIOjF
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) March 15, 2023
Here’s Martin’s words on the incident: Martin Frustrated With Penalty
His head coach Lane Lambert understood what transpired from Martin’s point of view and the call.
“I don’t think you can throw somebody’s helmet,” Lambert said. “I thought the game kind of turned in three minutes.”
Martin wasn’t benched after coming out of the penalty box, but is there any chance he will sit against the Ducks?
There’s no way.
This is a veteran who had a mental lapse for a second and has had a strong season.
If this was a rookie or a younger player, then yes, he takes a seat. But now is not the time, with so much on the line.
Should Aho Be Elevated to the Top Power-Play Unit?
The New York Islanders power play has been better since the arrival of Bo Horvat, but there have still been too many opportunities where nothing’s gone on.
The Islanders had three power plays Tuesday night, two in the third period but recorded just two shots.
Lambert’s club had a glorious chance late, pulling Sorokin on the power play in the waning minutes of the third, but failed to execute the six-on-four opportunity.
“I didn’t think our power play was very good in the third period,” Lambert said. “We have to be better than that.
“There’s no way we can accept that.”
One of the most significant issues for the power play, besides the entries, has been Noah Dobson at the point.
As a young player still learning, he’s shown signs that he can be a quarterback on a top unit, but other times, his shot decision or looks raise some eyebrows, and he’s struggled to keep the puck in the offensive zone way too often.
The Islanders’ second power-play unit scored Tuesday night, but seconds after the penalty had expired, Sebastian Aho threw one to the net that Jean-Gabriel Pageau redirected.
For as much heat that Aho gets for his defensive play, he’s shown well quarterbacking the second unit. He makes quick decisions. He doesn’t have a rifle of a shot, but his wrist shots have been accurate.
Lambert likely sticks with Dobson on the top unit, but Aho is offensively doing the right things to get more of an opportunity.
Should Line Combinations remain the same?
With Pageau back in the lineup, the Islanders were able to run four lines in the first period, a strong first period that had them up 1-0 after the opening twenty.
But after those penalties stated above, it seemed that the game ended right there, despite the Islanders getting a goal before the end of the second.
Here’s how the Islanders forwards lined up against the Kings:
Anders Lee-Bo Horvat-Josh Bailey
Zach Parise-Brock Nelson-Kyle Palmieri
Pierre Engvall-Jean-Gabriel Pageau-Hudson Fasching
Matt Martin-Casey Cizikas-Cal Clutterbuck
The identity line early throughout the game stirred trouble after each whistle, which is their job. The top line got in on the forecheck early and garnered some offensive zone time.
Hudson Fasching and Pierre Engvall, alongside Pageau, seemed strong.
The second line has lost its spark a bit, with just one shot on goal.
Against a struggling Ducks team, this New York Islanders lineup should get the nod again, and if they can start the way they began Tuesday, structurally wise, rolling all four lines, they should come out victorious.