It seemed all but fitting that the end of the New York Islanders lengthy road trip would add one more gut punch before it was done. The news that Ryan Pulock would miss at least the next month was a tough break for an already struggling blue line,but it isn’t the first time under Barry Trotz that the Islanders lost a key piece of their blue line.
While the timeframe and injury were different, the loss of Adam Pelech during the 2019-20 season became a major turning point for the Islanders that year. In a nutshell, a promising season was almost undone as New York struggled to fill the void that Pelech left.
That was when things were going well for the Islanders. This time around, they find themselves in a more precarious spot.
Where the Islanders need to start is making sure they find their consistency. That was the first issue that head coach Barry Trotz pinpointed from that last time they lost a critical defenseman to injury.
That may be easier said than done this season since consistency has been one of the Islanders’ biggest challenges through the first 13 games. It’s become such an issue that those in the sports betting crowd are sure to be getting antsy over any wagers involving the Isles and their Stanley Cup odds.
“Other guys have to step up,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said. “The biggest thing I can take from the last time that it happened to us is we said ‘Ok we don’t have (Pelech) so we’re going to have to score more.’ Well not necessarily. We just have to score at the same rate and make sure we take care of business and other guys fill that void. I don’t think we totally did that.
“I think our mindset was we were going to outscore the problem.”
The Islanders bench boss acknowledged the Islanders may have scored a bit more, but opposing teams found the back of the net more frequently as well. This time around the mindset should focus on sticking to their style of hockey, Trotz explained.
🎥 Trotz Media Availability 🎥 pic.twitter.com/YlCKHbAx1d
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) November 18, 2021
Again, easier said than done.
The New York Islanders have had a tough time establishing their defensive prowess as they had in years past which had made them successful. The importance of the aforementioned Pelech will increase with Pulock sidelined and New York will need to see Scott Mayfield take a bigger role on the blue line.
“We just have to say we’ll score three goals a game, we just have to make sure the other team doesn’t score four,” Trotz said. “If we have that mindset then we’re going to get points every night and win some hockey games. I think that’s where we got off track a little bit. We said we were going to cover it up offensively and what happened? We were looser and we’re not built as a really good offensive team. We just aren’t. … We’re better off doing what we do and staying to our identity.”