Islanders’ Woeful Power Play Leads To Frustration

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The New York Islanders were outhustled, outplayed, and outworked in all three zones of play in Game 2 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Most notably, Thomas Greiss and John Tavares finally looked human after nine impressive games to start the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The onus fell on Doug Weight and the power play units to help give the Islanders some life in this game—a familiar position for this team. After going 0-for-14 last year in a seven-game series against the Washington Capitals, the expectation for the Islanders included making the most of their man-advantage opportunities heading into this postseason run.

Through two games in the Second Round, the Islanders have been awarded nine power plays, converting twice—22 percent efficiency in those scenarios. Unbeknownst to the average fan, that mark is relatively impressive. Here’s the issue; the power play goals are not coming when the team needs them most.

The Islanders had two early chances on the power play before the halfway point of the opening period in Game 2. During the first power play, the Islanders and Lightning were still tied 0-0. During the second power play, the Islanders trailed 1-0. The Isles combined for one shot through four minutes on the power play.

It wasn’t until the Islanders’ third power play they finally broke through. Unfortunately for the Islanders, it cut the deficit to 2-1, rather than tying the game up.

In a figurative sense, the wind was taken out of the Islanders’ sails despite finally breaking through. They couldn’t set up in the offensive zone, didn’t have passing or shooting lanes when they did gain the line, and were unable to create enough traffic near Ben Bishop. The lone goal scored by the Isles came via the power play. A Thomas Hickey point shot was deflected by Nikolay Kulemin’s stick and then sailed past Bishop for the goal.

Moving forward, the Islanders’ best bet is changing up one, if not both, power play units to create better scoring chances. It’s been considered before, but the Islanders should feel desperate, putting Johnny Boychuk on a power play unit is a necessity for the club.

The Islanders rely on Frans Nielsen and Nick Leddy to be “puck transporters” on the power play. Due to this fact, separate them and put Boychuk alongside one of them on the point to generate the best shot from the point.

In related news, Newsday’s Arthur Staple mentioned during Game 2, Ryan Pulock stands a good chance of replacing Marek Zidlicky come Game 3 on Tuesday of this series if he’s fully healed and healthy. Pulock scored a power-play goal in Game 3 against the Panthers last series.

This series is far from over. In fact, some would argue winning one-of-two on the road is good enough since it shifts home-ice advantage in favor of the Islanders. The only way it shifts home-ice advantage though, is if the Islanders find a way to win both games back in Brooklyn. The best way to win both games starts with scoring power play goals that shift momentum in favor of the Islanders.

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