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Same Old Power Play Could Spell Trouble for the New York Islanders

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New York Islanders

The running comment on social media after the New York Islanders first power play against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night was that it was in midseason form. No, it wasn’t because they had generated a number of scoring chances or found the back of the net.

Rather, it was because the Islanders’ power play struggled to generate much momentum or create many scoring chances. New York finished the night 0-for-3 on the man-advantage and missed out on opportunities that could have changed the course of Thursday’s 6-3 season-opening loss to Carolina.

By comparison, Carolina capitalized on two of their five chances, including one that Islanders head coach Barry Trotz ultimately felt was the backbreaker.

“I thought the fifth goal really took us out of the game,” Trotz said. “We were sort of hanging around and it felt like we were going to have a last push and we took an offensive zone penalty, which we don’t need to do that. They’re A, too good of a power play. And B, we’re in the game and we’re 200 feet from our net. That fifth goal really put us out of the game.”

There were several different areas of the Islanders’ game that they’ll need to clean up before Saturday’s meeting with the Florida Panthers, but the power play remains one of the most important aspects that they’ll need to adjust. It has been an issue for quite some time, even after Trotz took over behind the bench in 2018.

In fact, dating back to the start of his first season with the Islanders and through last year, the New York Islanders have only operated at 16.5% efficiency on the power play. That put them at 26th in the league.

It’s hard to say how many games could have been changed with a power-play goal in that span, on Thursday it was easy to pinpoint just how much one would have helped against Carolina. Andrei Svechnikov had just scored early in the first period to tie the game at one when the Islanders had their first power-play chance of the night.

The New York Islanders couldn’t do much of anything with the first power-play opportunity. They didn’t register a shot on net and struggled to set up in the offensive zone. At one point Oliver Wahlstrom slipped trying to take the puck up the ice.

Carolina scored a few minutes after the power play expired to take their first lead of the night.

The Islanders’ second power play of the night didn’t fare much better and the third came to an end 58 seconds in after Anders Lee took a crosschecking penalty.

“We get one on the power play tonight it could be a different game,” Mathew Barzal said after the game. “We could have tied it up early in the game or could have got one. That’s a good PK, they’ve been good the last three, four years. We’ve seen to have some difficulty with them and just finding plays. I didn’t feel like we could make that second play. We were kind of getting in the zone and the next play we couldn’t make.

“It’s going to be something we look at. It’s early in the season, so we’ll get it clicking.”

The Islanders star isn’t wrong about that. The season is still early — it was only the first game — and there is still time to work out the kinks in their power play. To problem is, they’ll have to do it sooner rather than later while their in the midst of a 13-game road trip to start the season.

Practice time will be limited through the first six games of the season and the New York Islanders need to get off on the right foot during the long road trip. They’ll get five days in between their meeting with the Vegas Golden Knights on Oct. 24 and their matinee in Nashville the following Saturday.

Still, at that point, they’ll nearly be halfway through their road trip.

Yes, it’s there is plenty of season left to go after game No. 1, but the issue with the power play is something that the Islanders need to nip in the bud now. The Points the Islanders accumulate early on in the year have often helped them get to the playoffs later on.

With the grind of an 82 game season, they don’t want to be in April thinking back to missed opportunities at points they had like the one on Thursday.

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