Mat Barzal has been symbolic of the Islanders this season. He is shooting more and scoring more, a welcome sight for all.
Throughout most of last season, the offseason and in the first few games this year, there was a state of panic. The team did just simply not score enough goals to win against the top teams.
This year, so far, is a much different story. This team was so reliant on their defense and goaltending to win games, and for the majority of their wins last season, would have to give up one or two goals maximum in order to win. Let’s look at the last three games:
Toronto 4, Islanders 5
Islanders 4, Philadelphia 3 (SO)
Islanders 5, Pittsburgh 4 (OT)
In this article, we will statistically and logically break down the offensive power the Islanders have seemed to gain this season. It puts much less pressure on the defenders and net-minders to be nearly flawless, as those are the most exhausting positions in the sport.
By The Numbers (all statistics via SAP/Natural Stat Trick)
-Last season, the Islanders scored an average of 2.72 goals a game. This was 22nd in the NHL. They have scored 3.21 goals a game so far this year, which is ranked 12th.
-Last year, the Islanders power-play was 14.5%, good for 29th in the NHL. So far this year, the Islanders power-play is 10th in the league at 21.6%.
-Last season, the Islanders had a shooting percentage of 9.6%, which was 14th in the NHL. This season, their shooting percentage is 11.09%, which is 7th in the NHL. Their shooting percentage is 10.62% in even strength, which is the fourth best in the whole league.
The moral of the story is the Islanders’ offense has improved in every aspect. 5-on-5, power play, consistency, and late goals. This is crucial for this team going forward.
The Key Contributors
Like always, the Islanders’ have gotten contributions from all across their lineup. However, a certain few players this season have taken their offense to the next level, most notably being Mat Barzal who leads the team with nine goals and 17 points.
Anthony Beauvillier, who has recorded seven goals and seven assists so far this season, has been fantastic too.
Islander fans were skeptical about signing Derick Brassard, but miraculously, he is third on the team in points with 15. He is on a roll and it seems like his career is back on the right track on the Island.
Barzal and Brock Nelson share the team lead in points with 17. Brock Nelson earned NHL Network’s #1 star of the night Tuesday for recording two goals and one assist in Pittsburgh.
Lastly, the Islanders have seen far much more offensive production coming from the blueline. Players such as Devon Toews are having breakout seasons, with 11 points in 19 games and a +5 rating so far this season.
Another player who has shocked the Islanders community is Nick Leddy. Coming off of a pair of shaky seasons, Leddy is playing incredible hockey on both the offensive and defensive side of the puck. Leddy has nine points in 15 games played.
Why is the offense doing so well?
One word. Confidence. All of the players this year who have struggled last year offensively always had skill.
Now it is being executed properly.
Players such as Beauvillier and Nelson have never skated the puck with such confidence in their NHL career, and the results are coming. As opposed to playing only a dump and chase game, having to grind every single game to come out with a 2-1 victory, players like these have found open ice and have been able to take advantage of their scoring chances as a result. Keep in mind this is all happening without Jordan Eberle or Anders Lee doing anything.
Now, this doesn’t mean that there won’t be any dry spells this season when it comes to offensive production. It happens to everyone. It happens to the best teams in the National Hockey League.
Even if consistency is a question, it sure is promising and comforting to know that if the Islanders give up four goals that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to lose- because they can score than one extra in the clutch when it matters most.