However, the New York Islanders were all out of sync in this one, as they fell by a score of 2-0 to the Devils.
Just like my iPhone, this team needs to complete an update. The Islanders played this game as if you and your friend played the NHL video game, but one of you was lagging the whole time.
The usual tape to tape passes we see from this team out of the defensive zone failed to hit their intended targets in stride. The ones that were caught were bobbled, as this game was eerily similar to the Islanders 5-0 loss to the New York Rangers on Jan. 16th. The only difference was that the defensive effort was more respectable last night.
Ilya Sorokin got his second career NHL start but was met with the same lackadaisical effort by his team like he saw in start number one. He indeed looked much more comfortable last night, as he showed glimpses of the hype he had been receiving over the previous six years.
His play can be discussed at a later date, as he was not the problem last night.
Following the loss, Captain Anders Lee and Ilya Sorokin spoke to the media about his team’s performance.
Barzal and Nelson were unable to build off their performance from Thursday’s win
I spoke in my last piece about the importance of Mat Barzal and Brock Nelson, the Islanders’ number one and number two centers, respectively, being a more consistent threat each night. Barzal failed to record a shot in the loss to the Devils, while giving the puck up once in 23:32 TOI.
Nelson was more noticeable with three shots on goal. But he struggled mightily in the faceoff dot, winning just 22.2% of his draws. He played 19:29 of total ice time.
Veteran defenseman Nick Leddy went missing in the second period, but in the postgame press conference, he said everything was fine, as it was clear his Head Coach was not liking his play and sat him for a few shifts.
Fourth-liner Casey Cizikas had a rough one as well, as, on the second goal allowed, Nikita Gusev absolutely walked him.
We saw him miss a few shifts, as this is something you never see from Cizikas. But that was the kind of night it was for this Islanders hockey club.
When both players struggle to create, their linemates struggle as well. The second line, the most productive line in last year’s playoff run, has failed to muster many opportunities this season. Anthony Beauvillier left the game with what seems to be an upper-body injury. As of now, there is no update on his availability for the team’s next game on Tuesday against the Washington Capitals.
While the Islanders led the Devils in every statistical category, the one area the team failed to win, besides the goal totals, was takeaways. But it is not about losing this category that bothered me. It was the fact that the Devils racked up 11 takeaways to the Islanders’ one. In the Islanders’ win last Thursday against these same Devils, they recorded one takeaway. The Devils failed to record one.
The only player that deserves praise from last night’s performance is 21-year old defenseman, Noah Dobson. He played 22:22 minutes last night as he was oozing with confidence. He recorded two shots on goal and blocked seven Devils shots. He has taken strides so far this season, and like I said, was a real bright spot last night.
As a netminder myself, you have to give credit where credit is due. 28-year old Scott Wedgewood, who started this season as the Devils’ third-string goaltender, was promoted to the backup role after Corey Crawford announced his retirement towards the end of Training Camp. Now Wedgewood has been promoted to the starter role with Mackenzie Blackwood on the NHL’s Covid list. After doing all he could in the Devils’ 4-1 loss to the Islanders last Thursday, he played well yet again, picking up his third career shutout.
He turned away all 28 Islander shots, with a handful being high-caliber opportunities.
The New York Islanders have a great opportunity to rebound from this pitiful loss when they face a COVID-riddled Washington Capitals team on Tuesday and again on Thursday. The effort we have seen from the Isles in their losses is unacceptable, and Head Coach Barry Trotz will do what he can to get his players ready for the next game.