The Isles defense dominated
This New York Islander team’s greatest strength is their ability to play lockdown defense in their zone.
Even with the losses of Devon Toews and Johnny Boychuk, the Islanders’ defense looked like the shutdown play we saw throughout the bubble. 20-year old Noah Dobson had a strong game, playing 20:13 minutes, recording three blocks, a hit, and an assist.
The defense took away what seemed like every cross-seam pass, and thanks to hard backchecking and strong positioning, the Rangers had little offensive opportunities.
Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech, the team’s top defensive pairing, were a big part of that. Pulock made a great play to break up an odd-man rush late in the first period. Later in the game, the Islanders got caught, leading to a four on two for the Rangers. But Pelech used his long stick to break that up, leading to a scoring chance the other way.
The Islanders as a whole blocked 20 shots, as they allowed just 24 shots on Semyon Varlamov.
Speaking of Varlamov, it was a relatively easy night in net. He faced nine shots in the first period, 12 in the second, and just three in the third as the Islanders allowed nothing as the game neared its end.
During that second period, Varlamov had to be on his game, which he was. His puck-tracking ability was phenomenal, which directly impacted his ability to control his rebounds.
After the game, Varlamov spoke about the team he has in front of him.