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Islanders Struggle With Discipline This Season Unmasked in Latest Win



On Thursday, the New York Islanders were victorious in their 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. Mat Barzal’s go-ahead goal at 15:07 of the third period allowed the islanders to push their point total to five games and remain undefeated in 2022.

But the win unmasked an issue that has not been discussed much.

That issue has been the Islanders’ discipline, as they awarded New Jersey Devils five power-play chances, which allowed New Jersey to tie the game up midway through the third.

Fortunately for the Islanders, New Jersey entered the contest with the second-worst power-play percentage in the NHL at just 14.4%. Over the five power-play chances, the Islanders allowed just five total shots.

New Jersey’s power play was so weak that a one-for-five night with the man advantage raised their power play to 14.7%.

Islanders forward Brock Nelson was in the box twice on Thursday and for the scorer that he is, being stuck in the penalty box is disadvantageous for the Islanders.

His first of two penalties was an offensive-zone penalty while on the power play.

Defenseman Adam Pelech, one of the premier defensive defensemen in the NHL and recent All-Star recipient, was in the box twice.

Forward Ross Johnston was also in the box twice, the first for an illegal check to the head on A.J. Greer (minor). Johnston will have a hearing later today to determine if extra discipline is necessary.

The second penalty was for roughing, but New Jersey forward Nathan Bastian went to the box as well.

There’s a lot of things in a hockey game that is out of a player’s control. But not the penalties we saw on Thursday. Those were all controllable, and for an Islanders team that has struggled to produce offensively, certain players cannot become mainstays.

While the Islanders have collected points in five straight, the penalty kill has played to a tune of 72.72%, as they have killed off eight of 11 penalties. On the season, the Islanders penalty kill is at 81.5%.

Staying disciplined has been a problem for the Islanders all season long.

The Islanders have recorded 313 PIM this season, which ranks 18th in the NHL, but their 10:47 minutes of penalties per game is the third-highest.

Despite tiring out the penalty kill units, more damage is done when penalties need to be killed off often in a hockey game.

Players like Mat Barzal, Anders Lee, Oliver Wahlstrom, and Brock Nelson are not on the penalty kill units.

That means that the more time spent on the penalty kill, the less time these offensive players have to leave their mark on a game.

Being undisciplined is not a recipe for success, regardless of the opponents’ strengths.

The New York Islanders next two opponents in the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers have not had much success with the man-advantage this season, but that does not mean the Islanders can give these two teams chances.

The Islanders play the Capitals on Saturday, whose power play is 14.6%. The Islanders were supposed to play Washington on Dec. 23, but the game was postponed because the NHL decided on an early start to the Holiday break.

Capitals Captain Alex Ovechkin has been an Islanders killer over his NHL career with 61 points in 62 career games (40 goals, 22 assists). 12 of the goals have come on the power play.

Ovechkin has six of the Capitals’ 16 power-play goals on the season. Washington is 1 for 11 on the power play in 2022, and even with their struggles, giving a guy like Ovechkin countless opportunities to bury will undoubtedly come back to bit the Islanders.

The Capitals have averaged 2.97 power plays per game in 2021-22.

“Don’t let him shoot from that spot,” Islanders associate coach Lane Lambert said regarding how to limit Ovechkin on the power play. “It’s (Washington) a tough power play to stop..and he doesn’t need much time to get one away.”

The Islanders play back-to-back against Philadelphia on Monday and Tuesday of next week. The Flyers power play has operated at 16.5%. They are three for their last 13 on the power play.

Flyers captain Claude Giroux is another player who has just collected points against the Islanders over his career. In 60 career games against the Islanders, Giroux has 64 points (21 goals, 43 assists). Five of the 23 goals have come on the power play.

The Flyers have averaged 2.86 power plays per game.

Now the undisciplined play in Thursday night’s contest could be blamed on the rust that comes with the Islanders playing their first game in 12 days.

It’s one thing when a penalty must be taken, in a big situation where a goal against is more than likely the result.

That was not the case against New Jersey, and those are the types of penalties that the Islanders need to avoid to be in a position to collect points, especially against tougher opponents.

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