After dropping their game in overtime to the Philadelphia Flyers last night, the New York Islanders have now dropped their last four games (0-3-1).
Dating back to the gut-wrenching last-minute loss to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday, the Islanders have struggled to play responsible hockey in their own zone.
Against the Flyers yesterday, it was no different as both goals for the home squad came off defensive breakdowns. The first mistake came from Scott Mayfield, who lost his man Jakub Voracek backdoor to give the Flyers an early 1-0 lead. The second goal came after repeat offender Leo Komarov failed to gain inside position on Kevin Hayes, as we saw another tap-in goal.
And the third and final goal for the Flyers came in overtime as Noah Dobson, who has played exceptionally well, failed to stay with his man Scott Laughton, who netted the game-winner.
I do not believe goaltender Semyon Varlamov was too happy with his positioning on this goal, but he must forget and move on. Nevertheless three goals against, same storyline.
New York Islanders must cut out silly mistakes in second game of back-to-back
This was a game the Islanders should have won. After the first twenty minutes, the team woke up. They outshot the Flyers 21-8 over the last forty minutes and garnered many scoring chances, but were only able to net the two.
The third-line for the Islanders, Oliver Wahlstrom, J-G Pageau, and Kieffer Bellows, was strong yet again. And the defense was getting in on the offense, which is something this team needs to see more but cannot rely on. However, as per the below Tweet, it looks like that there will be changes made to that line in order to spark a bounce-back tonight.
Both Islander goals came due to strong decisions by their defensemen. The first goal saw Adam Pelech pinch, before taking the puck all the way behind Carter Hart. As he came around the net, he made a quick pass to Jordan Eberle, who for once, let the puck go as the Islanders cut their deficit in half.
The second goal saw Mayfield take a cannon of a slapshot, beating Hart to tie the game at two. He was given a lane and picked a perfect spot to place the puck for his first of the season.
For a team that has struggled to score consistently, it was great to see the defense help out. The Islanders could use more offense from their defense more often. Even though the game ended in defeat, the backend can build off their offensive performance.
But I think there is too much pressure on the backend to have to do it all. We saw them make key plays in the offensive zone, but also saw uncharacteristic plays in their own zone. The Komarov debacle will not be counted against the defense, if anything that goal is also on Mat Barzal, who was caught puck watching.
But the other two mistakes are.
In tonight’s game against these same Flyers, the Islanders can ill-afford to break down in their own zone. Given the second game of the back-to-back, rookie goaltender Ilya Sorokin will be in net. In the six periods he has been between the pipes, the Islanders have failed to score a single goal. He has not played to an elite level, but the team has failed to put him in a position to succeed.
The defensive units tonight must play as structured as humanly possible. But also, the offense must get on the board first. The Islanders are a team that usually has success when they have a lead, as they know how to play shutdown hockey more often than not. I know what you are thinking, as we saw them score three goals to start the game last Tuesday, but still lost.
That does not happen often under Barry Trotz and I do not see that happening again this season, in that way. Getting points is the top priority. Given the way the team played yesterday should be a major confidence boost in the team’s ability to put together quality games. But it is a mindset. If the Islanders can play with that same mindset they did in the last forty, they are golden tonight. But if they fail to bring that same energy and continue to make boneheaded mistakes, you can add another loss to the losing streak. It’s that simple.