It took until the 47th game, but the New York Islanders finally reached their 100th power play this season. The Islanders have spent a league-worst 187:46 on the power play – the next closest team is the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have spent just over 30 minutes more on the man advantage than New York, at 218:43.
Meanwhile, the Vancouver Canucks are less than five minutes away from 300 total power-play minutes.
It would be one thing if the Islanders were at the bottom of the league and were a team with a reputation of not working hard. However, that is far from the truth, as the Islanders have been one of the most surprising teams these past few seasons and are on a historic pace for the lack of penalties drawn.
It was never clearer than in games early last week against the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers. The Islanders were not awarded power plays after a slash on Mat Barzal on a breakaway and a tackle on forward Jordan Eberle. To make matters worse, the Islanders were called for a penalty in overtime which led to the Bruins winning the game and the Islanders losing Casey Cizikas to an injury after he blocked a shot on the 4-on-3 power play. Then, two days later, Nick Leddy got his stick taken out of his hands, leading to the Rangers tying the game at one.
With only 108 power plays through their first 48 games, the Islanders are on pace for the fewest power plays in any season since the statistic was kept beginning with the 1978-79 season. The lone team to ever have fewer than 200 power plays were the Atlanta Flames, who had only 191 during an 80-game regular season in 1977-78. If this trend continues for the Islanders, they would be on pace for 189 power plays.
The Islanders have had 12 power plays in the past three games, but prior to that, only one game in the previous 13 presented more than two chances on the man advantage. Through 48 games, the Islanders have had 12 games in which they only had one power-play opportunity and have been held without any man-advantage chances three times.
Even odder, the Islanders have had fewer power plays than the opposition 29 times this season. They have had the same number of penalties eight times, and only have had more advantages 10 times.
Struggles on PP
The Islanders are clearly in the need of an offensive shakeup with the struggles this season of Jordan Eberle, Josh Bailey, and their captain, Anders Lee, who only has one power-play goal this season after posting 41 in the past four seasons combined. The Islanders were able to break their 0-for-14 skid last Monday against the Rangers, but scored the goal when they were down 6-1.
They’ve had to rotate in rookie Noah Dobson onto the second unit and clearly have a weakness with Derick Brassard on the wing with the second group. The Islanders have been emphasizing shooting the puck in practice, but are far too tentative to shoot in games. They have players in Brock Nelson who possess one of the top wrist shots in the league and defenseman Ryan Pulock with one of the hardest shots, but New York can’t seem to set them up enough in spots to score.
While lack of chances could do that for you, when the Islanders went on their 10-game winning streak earlier in the season, they were able to win with the lack of power plays. New York only scored once during streak, but still managed to win games. However, that has not been the case of late with the Islanders seemingly losing to inferior teams regularly.
The Islanders will hope to get one more win before the break when they take on the Rangers for the third time in nine days. They lost each of the past two games and find themselves narrowly hanging on to a playoff spot.
Matt Rothman is a 2018 graduate from Florida Gulf Coast University receiving his bachelor degree in journalism. Originally from Long Island, he moved to Parkland shortly after high school. Matt worked as the assistant sports editor for his school paper, eaglenews.com in college becoming just one of nine students in his graduation class to serve over 1,000 community service hours. His goal is to travel to every Major League Baseball stadium, and has been to multiple US Open finals.