There is no question that the New York Islanders studied the book on Pittsburgh Penguins netminder Tristan Jarry ahead of Game 1 on Sunday. The Islanders scored all four goals glove side as the clear weakness became the downfall for Jarry and Pittsburgh in the exciting Game 1 win.
Now the New York Islanders must do that again when the puck drops for Game 2.
The 26-year old Jarry performed relatively well against the Islanders during the regular season, winning five of six, with a .917 SV% and a 2.41 GAA. On Sunday, Jarry was fairly sharp in tight, using his lower body to deny an abundance of Islanders opportunities, but when the puck was elevated, the 2019-20 All-Star struggled mightily.
Because goaltenders are so big in stature, dropping down on every shot has become the norm. That was evident in Game 1 and it is why that initial instinct to drop could be costly.
The Islanders expected goals for (xGF) at even strength in the win was 1.9, which sums up the kind of game that Jarry had. All four goals allowed came at even-strength and the weakest of the four goals he allowed was the tying goal that came off the stick of Jean-Gabriel Pageau to even the score at two in the third period.
— NHL (@NHL) May 16, 2021
Although the release was a strong one, there is no way this puck can enter the back of the net from that far out. The fact that Jarry was aggressive on this play and still got beat should tell the Islanders that any shot to that side, regardless of Jarry’s positioning, can make its way in.
Part of what worked on Sunday was the Islanders’ aggressive nature when putting shots on net and how it appeared to rattle Jarry even with shots coming from way beyond where he’d normally have trouble.
Jarry saw shots this past regular season from an average of 34.77 feet out. The goals he did allow averaged from just under 19 feet away (18.97), a 15.8-foot discrepancy in the right direction. Sunday, the average distance on the shots he faced was rather similar to what he saw during the regular season, at 35.38 feet. The major difference was that the Islanders’ goals on the Penguins netminder came from 32.50 feet out.
That is a sure problem.
Scoring goals was not something the New York Islanders had been doing as they headed into the postseason. New York scored three or fewer in seven of their last regular-season contests and ranked 21st in the NHL, scoring just 2.71 goals per game. That was mainly in part to this Islander group registering the 10th fewest shots on goal per game at 29.0.
When the Islanders had a chance to let shots go on Sunday, there was very little hesitation. 41 shots found their way to Jarry, and the beauty of what we saw from the Islanders was that it did not matter where on the ice the shots were coming from. Barry Trotz’s group committed to this game plan and it paid off in the long run.
As mentioned, the Islanders’ offense was not one of the best this season, but the Penguins were. Their offense was second in the NHL as they scored 3.45 goals per game. But the statistic that truly stood out was their expected goals for this season 5 on 5 (xGF), which was 96.37.
This matters because Mike Sullivan’s group scored 126 goals. The commitment to attacking opposing netminders allowed the Pens to score goals that statistically should have been stopped. The Islanders had an xGF of 106.13 and scored 118 at even-strength during the 56-game season.
Now there are is one big question in play before Game 2: Does Jarry make the necessary adjustments to be more effective against this Islanders offense?
You can bet that the Islanders will put the first couple of shots towards Jarry’s glove side, and if it shows to be a weakness still, they will be looking to take full advantage of it.
All statistics in this article are courtesy of Natural Stat Trick and are based on even-strength play