The New York Islanders were almost as deadly when killing a power-play as they were on the power-play in 2010, largely because of the play of Frans Nielsen and Michael Grabner. The Isles top penalty killing duo were the league leaders in shorthanded goals, with seven for Nielsen and six for Grabner. The Islanders as a team ended the season with 15 shorthanded goals, or about a goal every 5.5 games.
This season has been a whole different story for the Islanders penalty kill, as they have a single shorthanded goal (scored by Grabner) in their first 26 games. The Islanders penalty kill as a whole is down about two percent this season, and the lack of shorthanded goals, and even shorthanded opportunities which take time, is likely a part of the cause of that.
It is not as though the Islanders have not had opportunities this first quarter of the season, it is just that they can’t convert. Michael Grabner has had countless breakaways this season, some on the penalty kill, but has failed to convert time and time again. The only breakaway I remember Grabner putting in this year was when he poked the puck from Ilya Kovalchuk and broke the tie against the New Jersey Devils.
If the Islanders want to continue this current hot streak and move up the standings they will need to start converting shorthanded. Both Nielsen and Grabner are still in position to take the puck the other way for a goal, but right now neither one is doing that. The Islanders being shorthanded used to be one of the most exciting parts of the game, but now it has gone to one of the most frightening.
Other Isles News and Notes:
– Great quote by Patrick Sharp in Brian Compton’s recap of Thursday night’s loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
“They’re a good team with young, exciting players over there,” Sharp said of the Islanders. “We were in that situation a few years ago and they’re a dangerous team. We’ve played them twice now and they’re hungry to win. They’re on their way. I remember coming in here with Philadelphia years ago, and it’s a much different team. They’ve got things going in the right direction, for sure.”
– The Islanders will take on a Crosby-less Penguins on Saturday, in what will be a good in division test of how hot the Islanders truly are right now. Not that the Isles will be competing with the Pens for the first spot in the East, but unlike playing a Western Conference opponent it is more important they win in regulation.
– Speaking of regulation and overtime, the Islanders are now 0-6 when going into bonus time. As Dominik over at Lighthouse Hockey notes, “Going 3-3 instead of 0-6 in extra time would have them three points out of eighth right now, with three games in hand on Ottawa.”
– Despite putting up plenty of goals in their last five games, the Islanders still sit in 29th in league in goals per game average, with 2.27 per game. Al Montoya is holding teams to 2.14 goals per game, but a .13 differential is nothing to feel confident in.