The New York Islanders find themselves near the top of the league in shots allowed at 32.6 per game; only Arizona (35.5) allows more. As Newsday’s Arthur Staple notes in a reader mailbag, their struggles in that area appear to stem from a systems change designed to compensate for some struggles in their transition game.
The Isles are coached to allow a bit more possession in their back end but strive to allow more shots from the outside as a trade-off. Unfortunately, they’ve struggled when it comes to retrieving the puck and as a result, they’ve taken a beating in the overall possession game which is one of the reasons for their slow start to the season.
One defense pairing in particular who hasn’t thrived under the changes is their expected top duo of Nick Leddy and Travis Hamonic. Both players have struggled considerably in their own end but Staple points out that the coaches are pleased with the other pairs which is why they haven’t been split up yet; they worry about doing more harm than good if they change things up.
Given that the Metropolitan Division has quickly become the hottest in hockey and that they find themselves at the bottom, they may soon have to take the risk of changing things up on the back end in the hopes that doing so can take some of the pressure off their goaltending.
More news from the Islanders:
- While some have speculated that rookie forward Anthony Beauvillier could potentially be loaned for the upcoming World Juniors, that won’t be the case, reports TSN’s Bob McKenzie (Twitter links). The 19 year old has seven points in 20 games this season but has been a healthy scratch more often as of late, suiting up just twice this month. Beauvillier is expected to sit tonight against Chicago, adds Brian Erni of IslandersPointBlank.
- The goaltending situation continues to be a strange one, as Erni along with Andy Graziano debate in a separate column. Jaroslav Halak has a below average goals against average and save percentage while Thomas Greiss is much better in both categories. However, Halak has seen the bulk of the action so far. Part of that is likely due to the fact he has been on the trade block for a while now but with the team quickly falling out of the playoff hunt, it would be understandable if they opted to go with the hotter hand. Further complicating things is Jean-Francois Berube, the third string netminder who has played all of six minutes this year. Graziano notes that if he doesn’t reach 30 appearances this year (highly unlikely at this point), Berube becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency so if they want to keep his RFA rights, they need to play him a lot more as well.