After long last, Islanders hockey is back!
Yesterday the Isles faced the Flyers for their first preseason game of the season. Although the Flyers weren’t exactly playing their “A” squad, the Islanders still had some impressing aspects to their game.
Throughout the course of the game, it was apparent that the coaching staff had implemented some new systems that already appeared beneficial. Barry Trotz, a more defensive minded coach, must have been happy with the 3-0 shutout.
Last season, the Isles consistently gave up 40+ shots a game, which is just unacceptable, let alone it being a lot harder to win when that occurs. Yesterday, however, they only gave up 17 shots and only a couple were high quality chances. Lehner looked comfortable in the blue and orange, but then again wasn’t tested rigorously.
The Islanders power-play also looked well in control with Barzal, Bellows, Eberle, Leddy and Beauvillier leading the charge. Passing was precise for the most part, especially on Bellows opening goal to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead. Bellows impressed with a nice goal and an assist.
The second power play line was that consisting of Clutterbuck, Czikas and Martin. Man, did it feel good to see these guys back together again. It is obvious to see that these guys love playing with each other and in turn they feed off of each others energy. Not only were they physical, Clutterbuck potted a goal to give the Isles a 2-0 lead. Another aspect this line provided the Islanders was a heavy forecheck which I think was lacking the last two seasons with the absence of Martin.
That brings me into the next category which was the penalty kill which was perfect throughout game. Martin and Cizikas were paired up and the kill was successful without letting up rarely any high quality scoring chances.
With #91 gone, more players will be given opportunities to thrive and I think this can be very beneficial to the team. More power-play time will be given to players who don’t usually see it and same with the penalty kill. Not only that, but this is why I believe ice time will be more evenly spread out between the team. Obviously, the first line will have more minutes but the third and especially fourth lines will be given more opportunities to grow and make an impact.
Yes this is only the first game, but its important to be optimistic around this team because I believe they will shock the NHL this year if Barry Trotz is able to push the right buttons.