Ana Kieu The Hockey Writers
Top Moments & Mistakes of Islanders West Coast Swing
Following a subpar road trip with a 2-1 record, the New York Islanders had an off day Tuesday before embarking on a three-game road trip in California with matchups against the Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, and Los Angeles Kings, respectively.
Alternate captain and right wing Cal Clutterbuck was listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury but made the trip to California.
“We’ve got to be good both at home and on the road to be a playoff team and have success in this league,” captain John Tavares told Dan Arritt of NHL.com.
Here are the top moments and mistakes of the Islanders’ West Coast trip.
Ducks in Orange County
The Islanders began their California trip with an opener against the Ducks at the Honda Center. For fans and reporters alike, the big question was “Will the Islanders’ power play get out of a slump tonight?”
The Islanders had a lot of chances on the power play – they did everything but capitalize on the man advantage, though, as they went 0-for-5.
On the bright side, a couple of Islanders players showed some improvement. Center Casey Cizikas played with more confidence in the puck, while veteran defenseman Johnny Boychuk used his body and played the angles in order to regain the puck in the New York zone.
Sharks in South Bay
The Islanders continued their California trip with a middle game against the Sharks at SAP Center. It was reported that center Alan Quine was on the trip and practicing with the team. He needs to complete a conditioning stint with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers before returning to the Islanders.
The Islanders entered the game with the league’s worst power-play at 0-for-15 on the season so far. However, their penalty kill has been decent, as it ranks eighth in the NHL with an 87.5% success rate.
The Islanders got some good news on Clutterbuck, who returned to the Islanders’ lineup after missing three games with a lower-body injury. He skated on the fourth line with Cizikas and left wing Nikolay Kulemin.
The Sharks controlled the play and corraled loose pucks early in the game, while the Islanders looked sloppy in their own zone. However, the Islanders showed improvement, as they picked up a couple of quality chances and later escaped with their first road win of the year, a 3-1 victory over the Sharks.
Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss was the best player in the game. He was a brick wall on the night, as he made 40 saves for his first win of the season. The Islanders power play remains a significant issue, though – the team is now 0-for-18 and is one of the bottom feeders in the league with a lowly rank of 28th.
Kings in the City of Angels
The Islanders finished their California trip with an appalling power-play record of 0-for-20 ranking them 30th in the league. You can add Kings defenseman and alternate captain Drew Doughty to the list of NHL players with more goals on the Islanders’ power play than the Islanders themselves, as the Kings blueliner scored a short-handed goal after right wing Adrian Kempe went to the box for slashing Isles forward Jordan Eberle.
Eberle denied by Kuemper, but #Isles PP at 3:46. Kempe for slashing.
— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) October 16, 2017
The Islanders had a late chance to tie the game at three apiece to force overtime, but Tavares missed an empty net with 20 seconds left in regulation, allowing the Kings to run off the final seconds and escape with a 3-2 win at Staples Center.
Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak was part of the reason why the team lost – his inconsistency is plaguing the Islanders as he holds a 1-2 record in three starts in four games thus far.
Faceoffs were another issue that cursed the Islanders, who have an insufficient 31% winning percentage in the faceoff circle. Conversely, the Kings have won 61 percent of their faceoffs. Winning faceoffs is important because it correlates to winning hockey games. Puck possession is also important, and you can’t win a puck possession battle if you’re starting without a puck.
The Islanders and Kings split their two meetings last season. Both teams beat each other 4-2 at home.
On a positive note, Islanders left wing and alternate captain Andrew Ladd got his 500th career point and his second assist of the season on Josh Bailey’s game-tying goal in the second period.
The Islanders visit the Rangers for a cross-town showdown at Madison Square Garden Thursday night at 7 p.m. EST on MSG and MSG+2.
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