It was no secret that the Islanders defense was terrible last season. There are many reasons as to why this is, but defensive systems are most to blame. A defensive system isn’t just enacted by the defenseman on the ice. Forwards and even the goalies play a part in how a team plays defense. This was the problem for the New York Islanders. Forwards overall did not play well defensively under Doug Weight’s systems. This led to poor back check, too many odd man rushes, and then leading to too many goals. Seems like a domino effect right? Well imagine this.
Barry Trotz is now our coach; we have that much. It will be interesting to see what type of system he installs for this team, and that system could very well solve some of our defensive woes. (Notice I said some of our problems… not all of them. You can’t teach lack of skill.) What if in Trotz’s system, forwards are always back checking. Or maybe the forwards start to come deeper into the zone on breakouts to give more support. Also notice how much I am talking about the forwards playing defense. The Washington Capitals beat the Vegas Golden Knights in the playoffs last year for a multitude of reasons, but a big reason was the fact that the Washington forwards always came back to backcheck. They put themselves into a position to get back quicker, and to catch up to all of Vegas’ speedy forwards. Hopefully, the Islanders can do something similar.
Like I said earlier, I don’t believe that this will solve all of our problems. We still need solid goaltending, and more skill on the back end would be nice. But, I believe that with new defensive systems, the Islanders will better be able to play team defense. In theory, the amount of those odd man rushes and non back checking situations would start to disappear from the tape. I understand that they happen, but they should not happen to the quantity at which the Islanders had them last year.
Hopefully, the Islanders will begin to play better team defense this season as a whole, and if the high powered offense can continue to shine now led by Mat Barzal, then maybe the Islanders will end up okay this season. Only time will tell.
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