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New York Islanders

New Year, Same Struggles: Islanders Offensive Execution, Speed an Issue in Game 1



New York Islanders, Lane Lambert

“We just got to execute,” New York Islanders defenseman Robin Salo told NYI Hockey Now following the 3-1 loss to the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.

The New York Islanders fired 33 shots on Florida Panthers netminder Sergei Bobrovsky in the loss, a shot total that New York Islanders head coach Lane Lambert will be proud of on most nights. But an Islanders team who only scored 2.73 goals per game in 2021-22 was only able to muster one goal, which came from Noah Dobson on the Islanders’ second power-play chance of the evening–a power play that struggled for the majority of the night.

“Our whole key is to play fast. Get the puck, move it up, get it on the forecheck, and just kind of just roll four lines and continue doing that,” New York Islanders forward Casey Cizikas said postgame. “And eventually, you’re gonna get chances out of that.”

“Teams, they’re going to get sick of going back for the puck. So I think if we continue that first period for a full 60, we’re going to generate more chances as the game goes on.”

Per Natural Stat Trick, the New York Islanders had an Expected Goals For of 3.94 on the night. They generated 36 scoring and 22 high-danger chances but totaled 16 misses, including three from the goal scorer Dobson.

READ MORE: Questions & Comments From 3-1 Loss to Panthers

Kyle Palmieri hit his first post of the season, and Mat Barzal came inches away from sniping Bobrovsky glove side in the second but rang the crossbar. The Islanders found themselves on a few odd-man rushes, but either a missed shot or a strong save by Bobrovsky turned those chances aside.

“We want to be aggressive, and we want to shoot more, and I think we did a good job of that,” Kyle Palmieri told NYI Hockey Now. “There might have been some more opportunities to sustain some offensive zone time, but we did a good job of testing them.”

“But they didn’t find the back of the net.”

The biggest concern for the New York Islanders entering the 2021-22 season was who on the offense was going to score the goals?

Brock Nelson is coming off a 37-goal season, Anders Lee is coming off a 28-goal season, but there needs to be more pieces potting goals in 2022-23 if the Islanders are going to give themselves a chance.

The positive from Thursday’s loss is that the aggressive system created more chances. The forwards stayed aggressive at the Panthers’ blue line rather than dropping back in the neutral zone, as we saw under former head coach Barry Trotz. But it doesn’t matter how many you get if you cannot capitalize on the chances you create.

The New York Islanders are not a fast team by any means. Yes, there are a few speedsters like Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier, and Nikita Soshnikov, to name a few, but for the most part, speed is not a strength.

The lack of speed limits the ability of the New York Islanders to transition.

We saw countless times, on rushes, where the Islanders needed to peel back after entering the Panthers’ zone because they were not quicker on the counterattack.

Rather than get the puck up the ice at times, the Islanders slowed the game down, which is not what Lane Lambert wants to see going forward.

“I wasn’t pleased with the way we transitioned the puck today. I thought, you know, we had made some strides in that, and we’ll have to continue working on it,” Lambert said postgame. “I thought we moved the puck too slow at times. We went D to D instead of going quick up [the ice], and it allowed them to get into their structure. So it’s just a matter of, really, it’s a two or three-second hockey game out there, and we just had to move a little bit quicker at times.”

The lack of quick decision-making also led to a spike in turnover numbers, as the New York Islanders ended their night with 20 giveaways. As close as the game was, the Florida Panthers struggled to capitalize on a handful of chances, more often than not missing the net from the slot.

Today’s NHL is all about speed and skill, especially in the regular season. And the New York Islanders are not a team that can play that way, every game, just because of their personnel, no matter how aggressive they play.

New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello showed trust in his offense this offseason by not bringing in anyone to bolster it nor make any trades. It’s just game one, but the lack of offensive production and quick transitions led to their downfall.


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