Times are good on Long Island. But still, the Islanders are going through their roughest patch of the season. In late 2019, they allowed 26 goals in a stretch of six games. The question is “why?” and how can it be resolved?
What exactly is going on with the Islanders?
This is just a slump. Nothing more, nothing less. Islander fans have been gifted over the past 16 months with relatively consistent and defensive hockey. When things go off the rails a bit, a lot of people tend to hit the panic button.
Thomas Greiss is not playing his best hockey as of late by any stretch of the imagination; however, the Islanders defensive composure hasn’t been as sound recently. More men are being left open, less shooting lanes are being blocked and many more odd-man rushes are being allowed.
It is strange, but it has happened against primarily bottom teams. The Islanders recently fought their way to a 3-2 shootout win against the Bruins, in an effort based on primarily defense and goaltending. The aspects that this team runs on ever since Trotz has been hired.
The Islanders are not the most spectacular team on paper. As a result, it takes far more focus to implement defensive strategies against top teams such as Boston than it goes against bottom feeders in the standings. While this is not an excuse, imperfection is a part of the National Hockey League, even amongst top teams.
Why should we believe it will be fixed?
Because slumps are natural. There is absolutely no need to panic. Are there holes this roster needs to fill to compete for a Stanley Cup? It’s quite possible. Even though the Metropolitan Division is extremely tight, the Islanders have never slid out of the top three in the league’s best division.
A coach like Barry Trotz, who operates on a defensive plan and stays loyal to it, will not allow these defensive blunders to continue. Over the last couple of practices, the Islanders have gone back to the drawing board and reiterated defense. As a result, the Islanders only allowed 26 shots on the road to Minnesota and one goal on a strange play.
To emphasize a point made earlier, the best teams in any sport have slumps once in a while. It is much better to have a slump around the New Year than it is in April. The Bruins are coming off of a slump throughout late November and early December, winning only two out of ten meetings. The Washington Capitals had a seven-game losing skid last season and still finished first in the division. The reality is this “slump” has been relatively short and as the New Year comes around, Islander fans can expect more structured, Barry Trotz style hockey.