New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield had his fair share of issues during the regular season. Despite putting up stronger numbers statistically speaking, the eye test showed an abundance of mental errors that had tainted those stats and his confidence.
In the playoffs, the Islanders would need Mayfield big time, as every opponent that they could face would have offensive capabilities superior to theirs.
It would be about locking down on the defensive side of the puck, and mental errors would hurt even more with every game mattering more.
Well, through ten games this postseason, Mayfield has seen the confidence rise as he has not just been one of the best Islander defensemen this postseason, but one of the best Islanders each and every game.
One of the problems during the regular season was that Mayfield rushed to get the puck off of his stick when he caught a pass and retrieved a loose puck.
That led to an abundance of turnovers and icings. It did not help that his counterpart, 11-year veteran Nick Leddy, had been struggling too.
Now, Mayfield is slowing the game down in his mind. He is winning puck battles along with the board, and instead of flinging the puck down the ice or trying to make a player that is not there, he is playing more intelligently than ever.
Mayfield is going back behind the net with the puck or feeding a strong pass to his partner rather than forcing something up the middle.
Here is a breakdown of his statistics from the regular season and the postseason.
#Isles Scott Mayfield per game stats during the regular season (56 games):
Scott Mayfield per game stats during postseason (10 games):
— Stefen Rosner (@stefen_rosner) June 6, 2021
The most significant correlation that we are seeing is that because of his stellar play thus far, he is gaining more trust from Islanders head coach Barry Trotz.
He is playing, on average, three whole minutes more in the postseason than he played in the regular season. That may not seem like much to some, but in the playoffs, that is only happening if there is belief in a player.
Despite the strong play in his own zone, Mayfield has done a tremendous job at feeding pucks to the front of the net when applicable.
Letting the puck go led to a big goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the series clincher, and Saturday night saw his deflected shot land on Mat Barzal’s stick, who buried the loose puck for the eventual game-winning goal to even up the series with the Bruins.
BARZAL HAS JUST BLEW THE ROOF OFF THE COLISEUM! TIE GAME. pic.twitter.com/YBFYP0BMeq
— Spittin' Chiclets (@spittinchiclets) June 4, 2021
“He’s a defender first, and he gets shots through from the point,” Trotz said following the Game 4 victory. “Obviously, the shot that even Barzy scored, you know he got it through. They were trying to block shots, he gets it by the first forward and gets it through the second and third pile, and Barzy can get a free puck.”
Like Trotz stated, Mayfield is letting shots go from the point this postseason. He has registered 21 shots on goal, with 2.1 shots per game. During the regular season, he only averaged 1.41 shots per game.
Seeing the offense and defense come together for Mayfield is an encouraging sign. While plus/minus is not a great stat to use to justify a player’s skill in the NHL, his plus-2 during the regular season was tied for the second-worst mark for an Islander starter.
But in the postseason, given his strong all-around game, he currently leads the Islanders in this category.
Plus/minus statistics don’t always tell the full story, but Scott Mayfield leads all #Isles with a +8 rating in the postseason. The Islanders have a +5 goal differential during the playoffs.
— Michael Zahn (@miczahn) June 6, 2021
“Well, I think Scott has been a real solid defender. He’s got size. He’s firmness.” Trotz said when asked about Mayfield’s all-around game this postseason. “He’s not going to wow you with end-to-end rushes or that, but he is steady, he is reliable, and he’s big. He’s got length, and he’s very committed.”
“He’s one of those guys that allows you to win.”
Mayfield has been a rock on the penalty kill, as he is getting his body in front of shots and has not allowed opposing players to control the paint.
While protecting the front of the net, the 28-year old has had to deal with some harassment this series.
In Game 3 against the Boston, Mayfield took a vicious cross-check from Jake DeBrusk. Debrusk ended up being fined by the NHL, and fortunately, Mayfield was okay.
DeBrusk was not assessed a penalty on the play. pic.twitter.com/aLU16oYo6p
— CordUp 🔌🍋 (@CordUpTime) June 1, 2021
In Game 4, Taylor Hall decided to drop the gloves with Mayfield after a battle in front of the net. Mayfield was up for the challenge and got the sold-out Nassau Coliseum crowd on their feet in a game where momentum meant everything trailing in the series two games to one.
Taylor Hall challenges and fights Scott Mayfield in Game 4 pic.twitter.com/q7gfCfqDFq
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) June 5, 2021
If Mayfield had not been a vital player for this club this postseason, the Islanders may be on the golf course rather than tied 2-2 in their second-round matchup with Boston.