Four Big Questions for the New York Islanders in 2020-21

Mathew Barzal #13 and Ryan Pulock #6 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Mathew Barzal #13 and Ryan Pulock #6 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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Mathew Barzal (13), Brock Nelson (29)
Mathew Barzal #13 and Brock Nelson #29 of the New York Islanders celebrate a power-play goal. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

3. Can the Islanders fix their power play in 2020-21?

For the New York Islanders, the Special Teams have been unbalanced. The penalty kill has been solid, accumulating a success rate of 80.4% over the last two seasons, which was ranked No. 14 in the NHL in 2019-20. However, the power play has been abysmal, posting an accumulative 17.3 PP% from 2018-2020 (third-worst). But do not worry, help is on the way.

Head Coach Barry Trotz is taking a page out of his Washington Capital’s notebook. In his time in DC., he witnessed the magic between John Carlson and Alexander Ovechkin (and others) on their top powerplay unit. With Carlson operating the point, and Ovechkin opening up for the one-timer inside the left circle, this became a lethal threat for Washington. During their Stanley Cup run, his Caps had the second-best powerplay at 29.3%, as it was a sure weapon and an integral part of winning it all.

Trotz’s goal is to replicate that structure here on Long Island. The Islanders have been practicing with Ryan Pulock in the place that the Great Eight has made famous. At the point will be 20-year old Noah Dobson.

Cal Clutterbuck (15)
Cal Clutterbuck #15 of the New York Islanders scores on the power-play. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

With Anders Lee, Matt Barzal, and Jordan Eberle, this unit will look to waste less time passing but more time focusing on getting pucks to the net. Ryan Pulock winding up at the left circle will surely call for more focus, leaving the other Islanders with an opportunity to shoot as well.

The powerplay needs to be a consistent threat in the regular season and in the Playoffs, especially this year. In their past postseason run, the power play gave their opponents the momentum because it was downright terrible. At 15.4%, it was just useless out there.

If they can get this powerplay above 20% this season, that will do wonders for their offense. In big games, not coming through with the man advantage has cost them before.

In a shortened season, in a stacked Division where every team but themselves is offensive-based, it will hurt a lot more if they struggle to score on special teams. Now scoring on the powerplay gives an offense confidence that the opposing netminder is beatable. And sometimes, a little confidence is all you need.