The New York Islanders’ power play has been their kryptonite this season.
After 38 games, the New York Islanders rank sixth worst on the man advantage at 18.4 percent. Over their last 29 power-play opportunities, the Islanders have just one goal, which served as the game-winner against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Dec. 29.
In their latest loss, a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Seattle Kraken on Tuesday night, the Islanders lost the special teams battle. Lambert asked if there were changes coming.
“We’ll we’re honestly going to look at it, obviously here in the next day, because we had two chances in the first period, and that game could have been a different story. That has to start producing. Right now, it’s just not, and we’re going to have to take a good, close look at it.”
Just a week ago, Lambert backed the power play in a media session, saying that he had no intention of moving any pieces around and was content with the chances they were creating. But that loss to the Kraken forced his hand as changes were made at Tuesday’s practice.
Per Newsday’s Andrew Gross, here’s what the new power play units look like:
PP1: Sebastian Aho/Ryan Pulock-Josh Bailey, Jean-Gabriel Pageau-Mathew Barzal-Zach Parise
PP2: Noah Dobson-Hudson Fasching-Anthony Beauvillier-Brock Nelson-Anders Lee
“We’re just…we’re looking at a couple of different options in order to generate some chances,” Lambert said.
As for what changed over the last week: “Well, that was last week. Things have changed for sure. But we clearly are trying to get the power play going.”
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Fasching has played on the power play in Bridgeport, especially in the bumper position, and Lambert seems to be giving him a shot in that spot.
“Well, again, we had a couple options on that unit today,” Lambert said. “So we’re just experimenting with a couple of different guys, but I know that he’s done it there [Bridgeport]. Again, things that guys do in Bridgeport certainly can translate here.”
As for the importance of the bumper spot: “Well, it’s about getting available. You’re in a position to recover pucks and help out, out number the penalty kill when there’s a rebound, potentially a bad pass, or whatever. So your intelligence level and movement into certain areas helps.”
Fasching, over his 11 games with New York, has shown off his strength along the boards and his ability to get rid of the puck quickly and precisely, making him a weapon in the bumper position.
Dobson has been a force offensively this season with nine of his 24 points coming on the man advantage as the top power-play quarterback.
One of the most significant issues for this Islanders’ power play, besides the shorthanded chances that they allow at an alarming rate (47 shots, 7th most), has been their entrances into the offensive zone. And if you can’t get into the zone cleanly and set up your structure, that’s when players force play, which results in chances the other way.
“I think that it starts with zone entries,” Lambert said. And then, from there, everything feeds off of that. So when our power play is having success, we’re entering the zone. There’s no question about it. And when we struggle a little bit, we have some problems with that. So it’s no different than any other team.”
The New York Islanders are back in action Tuesday night against a Vancouver Canucks team that owns the ninth-best power play in the NHL at 25 percent but also own the worst penalty kill in the league at just 67.9 percent. They have the ninth most penalties in minutes per game, at 10:16, so the Islanders should get their chances.