Islanders Weekly is my series that looks at the performance and outlook of the New York Islanders. Every Thursday, Islanders Weekly will take a look at the week that was for the Islanders, highlighting key players and trends while looking at the road ahead.
Related: Last Week’s Islanders Weekly
With a half dozen games now in the books, the Islanders are not where they hoped to be in a very tight East Division. New York has picked up six points in six games, sitting only above the New York Rangers in the division standings as of the conclusion of play on Wednesday. After a strong first week of action led by two shutouts, the team was more vulnerable defensively with a similar lack of offensive firepower.
The week got off to a strong start with a controlling 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils, but the team followed up that performance by getting shut out by the same New Jersey squad by a score of 2-0. A promising matchup with a depleted Washington Capitals team did not go the way the Isles hoped, as they allowed a late goal and fell 3-2. With a big road trip coming up this week, the Isles will be looking to right the ship before they dig themselves a deeper hole early in the campaign.
Barzal Line Stays Hot
The Islanders’ top line remains the primary source of offense for a team desperate for it. Mathew Barzal leads the team in points with six, with five of these coming in the three games this past week. Jordan Eberle joined his linemate on the scoresheet against New Jersey as he recorded his first two goals of the season. Barzal and Eberle have combined with captain Anders Lee to have 7 of the team’s 11 goals to this point.
The team’s top scorers also went to work with the man advantage this week, capitalizing twice against the Devils on Thursday. Eberle and Brock Nelson were both able to score power-play goals, with Lee and Barzal getting assists on Eberle’s tally. The line chemistry on the top line is one of the strong points for the team offensively, and they will be looking to keep producing as personnel changes are likely coming after the injury to Anthony Beauvillier.
Dobson Keeps Impressing
With question marks visible elsewhere in the lineup, the Islanders have reason to be very pleased with the performance of Noah Dobson thus far. The 21-year-old blueliner continued his strong start to the campaign by showing his offensive upside this week. He recorded two assists against the Devils on Thursday, one coming on the power-play, and scored his first goal of the season in Washington.
Dobson is slowly being leaned upon more by head coach Barry Trotz as his development continues on a very steady defensive team. Being paired with veteran Andy Greene at even strength, the young defenseman can use his offensive instincts while not sacrificing too many opportunities in his own end. He continues to be deployed with the man advantage and in offensive situations. With the strong showing this week, Dobson should continue to see opportunities to provide much-needed offense.
Goal Support Needed
The Islanders continue to be in desperate need of goal-scoring, particularly from their depth forwards. The only goal scored by a bottom-six forward thus far came off the stick of Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Dobson is the only defenseman on the team to score so far this season. Goaltending hasn’t been the primary issue for the Isles, but the lack of goal support their netminders are receiving isn’t giving them much of a chance of winning.
Ilya Sorokin made his second start of the season at New Jersey on Sunday and allowed two goals on 24 shots. It was a very good rebound performance from the rookie goaltender, but the shutout on the other end gave him no chance at picking up his first NHL win. Production from the bottom-six will be key in helping Sorokin pick up some wins in a tough East Division.
Coach Trotz continues to try his luck with different line combinations, most recently inserting Leo Komarov into the lineup in the loss to the Capitals. The move corresponded with Kieffer Bellows joining the top-six in the wake of Anthony Beauvillier being placed on injured reserve. We have still yet to see Oliver Wahlstrom on the season, while Michael Dal Colle made his season debut on Sunday but returned to the press box on Tuesday. Finding the right combination on Pageau’s line will be crucial in giving the team’s promising goalie duo a chance to win on a nightly basis.
Top Performers and the Week Ahead
- Mathew Barzal: 2 goals, 3 assists
- Jordan Eberle: 2 goals, 1 assist
- Noah Dobson: 1 goal, 2 assists
The Week Ahead
- 1/28: at Washington Capitals
- 1/30: at Philadelphia Flyers
- 1/31: at Philadelphia Flyers
- 2/2: vs Buffalo Sabres
*All stats came from Hockey-Reference