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Islanders Playoff Situation Stems From Power-Play Differential

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New York Islanders

Before Bo Horvat joined the New York Islanders, their power play was at 15.5 percent, the second worst in the NHL.

With Horvat, the Islanders have scored five power-play goals on 14 chances, 35.71 percent, and are now up to 17.2 percent.

That’s a positive sign, but the Islanders are just 2-1-2 over these five games, and their lack of success on the man advantage in crucial moments has led to them missing out on critical points.

In the last two games, which both went into extra time, the Islanders have had power plays in overtime. They failed to capitalize on both four-on-threes, with three shots on goal.

To analyze a bit more on those missed chances, Noah Dobson was in the Alexander Ovechkin spot for both.

Over his 24 goals over these past two seasons, he has scored none from the left point or inside the left circle, so there’s some confusion there as to why that’s the spot power-play coach John MacLean had him in on both occasions.

If the Islanders want Barzal at the point, which is where he was, Kyle Palmieri seems like a much stronger fit in Dobson’s spot.

Here’s the breakdowns of both overtime power plays:

But this issue of not coming through on the man advantage in those critical moments is nothing new, but an issue that has played the biggest reason as to why the Islanders are not currently holding down a playoff spot.

For as many complaints as there are for the Islanders five-on-five offense, they currently rank eighth best in the NHL, scoring 54.38 percent of goals in a game.

Eight of the top nine teams in Goals For percentage (8th column from right) are holding down a playoff spot.

New York Islanders, per Natural Stat Trick

New York Islanders, per Natural Stat Trick

So it comes down to the power play.

NYI Hockey Now went back through every game the Islanders had lost by a goal, including empty-netters, overtime, and shootout losses.

Here are the results.

The Islanders have lost 18 games this season by “a goal” using the parameters above.

In those 18 losses, the Islanders power play has come through 11 times on 56 opportunities (19.64 percent). Now, that is not terrible if you are looking at just the numbers.

The Islanders opponents in those games have scored 10 power-play goals on 57 chances (17.5 percent), with two shorthanded goals.

However, here’s five games worth mentioning where points were left on the table.

In the 2-0 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Nov. 10, the Islanders went 0-for-3 on the man advantage. The Coyotes didn’t score their two goals, one being an empty-net until the third period, with the Islanders’ power-play chances all coming in the opening frame.

The Coyotes game-winning goal came on the power play.

If the Islanders get a goal early in that game or two, that’s two points there. Instead the Islanders got zero.

In Nashville, on Nov. 17, the Islanders lost 5-4 to the Predators after trailing 4-1 at one point in the second period. The Islanders wnet 1-for-3 on the power play, scoring on their last chance with about 4:30 to play in the game.

The Predators went 1-for-3, with their power-play goal serving as the game-winner.

In the Islanders 4-3 shootout loss to the Boston Bruins on Dec. 13, the Islanders went 0-for-3 on the power play, with Boston going 1-for-2.

The Islanders had four power-play chances in the second period and failed to come through. One power-play goal likely wins that game, as, for the most part, they played well in that one and deserved a better fate.

In the 5-4 loss to the Coyotes just a few days later, the Islanders blew a two-goal lead and went 0-for-5 on the power play. There’s another two points off the table.

Moving on.

In the 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Jan. 12, the Islanders scored the first goal of the game but blew the lead in the third period. They went 0-for-3 on the power play,  with one chance early in the first period, had two chances in the second, a gave up a shorthanded goal on their final chance of the night, which served as the tying goal.

A 1-0 lead heading into the third period, at least one point was needed. But given the chances and the inexcusable shorthanded marker, draw that one up as another two points missed.

In theory, not a perfect theory, the Islanders lack of “clutchness” on their power play led to them missing out on 9 of a possible 10 points.

Per NHL.com, the Islanders own a power play goal differential of plus 23, which ranks 27th in the NHL.

The Islanders are currently a point out of a playoff spot. If you take into consideration the games in hand by the Pittsburgh Penguins (three), Washington Capitals (one), as well as a team like the Buffalo Sabres, who are trailing the Islanders by five points (5 games in hand), the Islanders nine potential points missed is everything.

The New York Islanders, hypothetically writing, would be at 70 points through 57 games, which would have them tied for the Rangers for third in the Metropolitan Division.

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