Hockey

NY ISLANDERS: Shuffled Lines Can’t Save Short-Handed Isles in 3-0 Loss to Bruins Friday Night By Matt Blittner, The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com

Consistency, it’s more than just a word. It’s an important concept; especially in regards to hockey. There’s consistency for players in regards to their routines and their performances. There’s also consistency on the part of the coaches who decide the lineup. Some coaches prefer to keep their team’s lines and pairings as consistent as possible in order to build chemistry; while others like to shake, rattle and roll.

Friday night at TD Garden against the Bruins, Isles Head Coach Barry Trotz was forced to go against his penchant for consistency due to the injuries sustained by Josh Bailey and Cal Clutterbuck on Thursday night. Those injuries, plus some sub-par performances caused Trotz to shake up his lines after Thursday’s 4-1 loss; however, the effects didn’t have the desired result as the Isles lost for the second straight game, this time by the score of 3-0.

Actually, that last statement isn’t entirely accurate. 

The opening minute of the game featured a Grade-A scoring chance for Brock Nelson who was staring at a wide open Bruins’ net but shot the puck high over the crossbar.

Moments later, Michael Dal Colle — re-inserted to the lineup in place of Bailey and Clutterbuck — was sprung for a partial break and was stoned by Boston’s rookie goalie, Jeremy Swayman. 

The fast start for the Isles was a welcome sight, but also a frustrating one as the team was unable to find a way to get the puck past Swayman. In fact, Nelson was sprung moments after Dal Colle and again could not get the puck into Boston’s net. That’s three Grade-A scoring chances in the opening several minutes of the game; surely Trotz was at least happy with the Nassaumen’s effort at that point?

Um, about that…

A Mathew Barzal high-sticking penalty against David Krejci at 6:59 of the first definitely irked Trotz who has repeatedly said that Barzal can’t take so many penalties. Barzal leads the team in penalty minutes this season for goodness sake. That’s not what you expect from your number one center.

Lucky for Barzal that his teammates picked him up and didn’t allow Boston to score on the power-play. Actually, the Boys from Long Island kept the Bostonians off the board all the way until the waning seconds of the first period. 

With the final seconds ticking off the clock and the Isles getting ready to head into the intermission feeling good about how they played, David Pastrnak decided to steal those feelings from the visitors by scoring with just 2.7 seconds left on the clock. 1-0 Bruins and just like that the Nassaumen went from feeling good to being down in the dumps.

And those feelings stuck with the Boys from Long Island when they came out for the second period. 

Oh no, not the second period, please not the second period. You know, the one period that is very clearly the Isles worst on a game in and game out basis all season long.

Well…

47-seconds into the middle period, Taylor Hall scored his second goal as a member of the Bruins — his second in as many games — and put the Isles down 2-0. That’s two goals allowed in under 50-seconds of game time; a deflating feeling for sure.

Then, that’s when the Islanders “other” issue reared its head. And yes, I do mean their power-play. From the 11:09 mark of the second period until the 19:07 mark of the period, the Isles and Bruins traded power-plays/penalty-kills with each getting two cracks at scoring with the man-advantage. 

The Boys from Long Island entered the game 19-for-107 on the power-play for the season and were already 0-for-1 in the game after a failed first-period power-play. It’s a good thing their penalty-kill has been reasonably sharp otherwise the fans melting down on Twitter might actually have a legitimate reason to worry.

The second Isles power-play opportunity of the second period actually stretched into the third period; but that didn’t change the result as the team was unable to build any momentum off the gifts they were being given by the Bruins. 

And speaking of the third period, two more Bruins’ penalties put the Islanders on two more power-plays; with neither resulting in a goal for the visitors. Overall, that’s five power-play opportunities for the Boys from Long Island in this game and a big 0-for-5 performance — which stretched their season-long issues on the man-advantage to an unsightly 19-for-112. 

Finally, with 1:12 left in the game and the Isles’ net empty, Curtis Lazar — the “other” piece of the Bruins’ Taylor Hall trade — scored his first as a member of the Bruins to seal the Islanders fate at 3-0. It was a game of repeated missed chances for the Nassaumen and one that cannot be considered an outlier given their last several matches. It was also the first career NHL shutout for Bruins’ rookie Jeremy Swayman; which just adds to the list of “firsts” the Islanders surrendered within the past two games.

With their next game not until Sunday, the Isles will have a little bit of time to try and find the answers they seek and they better find them soon. Perhaps the only question that doesn’t exist is about the goaltending as Ilya Sorokin was fine in net and followed a strong performance from Semyon Varlamov. 

Now if only the goalies could score for the rest of the team. 

GAME NOTES:

The Isles went 0-for-5 on the power-play to bring their season tally to 19-for-112…Nick Leddy and Casey Cizikas wore “A”’s on their jerseys in place of Josh Bailey and Cal Clutterbuck who missed the game due to injury…Josh Bailey’s absence marked the end of his 196-game consecutive games played streak…Kyle Palmieri played in his 600th career game…For the fifth time in their last nine games the Isles were held to one-goal or less. 

NEXT GAME:

Sunday April 18th Islanders at Flyers at Wells Fargo Center at 6:30pm(EST).

Categories: Hockey

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