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Postgame Mailbag: Fan Questions Following 7-1 Demolition of Ducks

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New York Islanders
New York Islanders celebrating 7-1 win over Anaheim Ducks (Courtesy of New York Islanders Twitter)

If you watched the New York Islanders Saturday night affair, a 7-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks, you saw what can happen when they play Lane Lambert’s system to a tee. Like we saw back in Thursday’s 3-1 season-opening loss to the Florida Panthers, the Islanders goal in the first period is to shoot the puck at will. They got the results they were looking for on Saturday night, which set the tone.

Duck, Duck, Goals: Islanders Dominate Anaheim, 7-1 Blowout

And unlike on Thursday, the New York Islanders were able to play that way for the entirety of the contest.

Thanks to everyone who sent in questions, comments, and concerns. Let’s get this postgame mailbag rolling, shall we?

What are your feelings that 5/7 goals tonight were scored by defense and not offensemen? (@IslesGirl3)

Goals, in general, are critical for the New York Islanders. We are talking (writing) about a team that averaged just 2.73 goals per game in 2021-22, which ranked 22nd in the NHL. From the start of preseason, Lane Lambert spoke on the importance of his defensemen joining the rush and being active in the offense.

I don’t think he expected his defense to score five of the seven goals on Saturday night and six of eight on the season, but it’s a sure positive. The Islanders forward group is not what one would call dominant, and based on the lack of production last year from the forwards, there is a lot of pressure on a handful of players to bounce back.

And with the defense taking some weight off their shoulders earlier in the season, that will go a long way.

Per MSG telecast statistician Eric Hornick the Islanders have three defensemen with two goals; no other NHL team has more than two goals from their defense, and 12 teams have none.

With Clutterbuck back in the fold and Lou unlikely to be able to keep Aho on IR forever, who do you think they end up waiving? (@Philzfacts)

It seems that Sebastian Aho‘s IR stint was a move in order to buy more time for the New York Islanders to make a decision. The New York Islanders have shown a love for Ross Johnston as, in 2021, he signed a four-year deal worth $4.4 million. However, when Cal Clutterbuck missed opening night, Nikita Soshnikov got the chance.

Soshnikov made the team due to his speed and penalty-kill ability, and given how aggressive the Islanders are now under Lambert and how speed is needed, Soshnikov fits the team’s mold more than Johnston.

When Aho is activated off IR, which can happen on Oct. 18 before their contest against the San Jose Sharks, I expect Ross Johnston to be placed on waivers. I would be shocked if another team picked him up with his contract.

As Wahlstrom acclimates himself in the lineup, do you see him being paired with Salo on PP2 as a one-time option? (@miczahn)

For Oliver Wahlstrom, each game needs to be a confidence booster. He’s talked about the importance of gaining confidence early in the season and took advantage of his limited minutes Saturday night (9:44 TOI), scoring on the breakaway early in the second period to give the Islanders a 3-0 lead as well as notching an assist later on.

Although he may get a longer leash than we saw under former head coach Barry Trotz, Wahlstrom knows that each game is an audition, which he shared with us following Saturday’s morning skate.

As he becomes more consistent at even strength, he will get his chances on the power play, which has started the season one-for-seven.

But Wahlstrom is a shooter, who has a cannon of a shot, so if he does get a chance on the second power-play unit, his main concern needs to be hitting the net, which he has struggled to do when getting power-play minutes over his short NHL career.

Dobson / Romanovs defensive stats were awful in spite of the tons of hits Romanov made. Why and what is needed to fix how they play, so it improves going forward? (@Deplorable1619)

It took Zdeno Chara and Noah Dobson months of practice and games to be comfortable with one another’s game, finally. And now Dobson is not playing with a stay-at-home defenseman like Chara but an aggressive one in Alexander Romanov.

Dobson has to play with a completely different mindset, one that he has been trained to play since having Johnny Boychuk as his defensive partner his rookie year, along with Andy Greene in his sophomore season.

Romanov loves to step at the Islanders’ blue line, and Dobson needs to learn that he can’t enter the neutral zone as quickly as he wants in case Romanov’s aggressiveness backfires, which we have seen during the preseason and during the first two NHL games.

The concern lies deep in the defensive zone, as a lack of understanding of one another’s game has led to a few turnovers that have generated chances for the opposition. A seven-goal performance masked those mistakes, but it is something that needs to be corrected because a stronger offensive club will make them pay.

And for an Islanders team whose offense is not considered elite (we shall see what happens this season), it will be imperative for the defense to be elite.

In your opinion and from what has been seen in the first two, what’s the likelihood Bellows becomes a consistent healthy scratch? (@nculkin27)

Kieffer Bellows got dealt a tough hand in Thursday’s season opener, as because of special teams dominating the game, he played just  7:16 minutes. He did not make the most of his minutes, while Oliver Wahlstrom did on Saturday.

Because Wahlstrom scored, notched an assist, and played strong away from the puck in 9:44 TOI, he is likely in the lineup Tuesday. And if he has another strong game, I think Lane Lambert will ride the hot hand and keep allowing Wahlstrom to grow, as he is a critical part of the future of the New York Islanders. It is imperative that he becomes a consistent offensive player.

Like we saw last season, Bellows and Wahlstrom will be battling it out for minutes, which is healthy competition and something Lane Lambert touched on Saturday morning. And to start the season, I think Lambert will ride the hot hand, so if Wahlstrom does not play well over the next few, I think you could see Kieffer Bellows back in there.

But Wahlstrom has the upper hand right now, for sure.

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