NEW YORK ISLANDERS 3-2-0 (6PTS.) vs. FLORIDA PANTHERS 3-3-0 (6 PTS.)
OPPOSITION SITE: EYE ON ISLES
BEFORE THE HEAVY LIFTING, JOSH LUECHT SPOKE WITH RYAN CARTER THIS MORNING.
Two teams face each other tonight with issues that are quite similar. New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano is looking for balanced scoring among his forwards. Florida Panthers coach Kevin Dineen is looking for scoring period. From anyone. Two weeks ago the Panthers and Islanders played their season opener in New York and Florida handed New York a spiffy 2-0 shutout looking as though they’d been playing together all season. The Islanders on the other hand couldn’t seem to get anything going, and that has manifested itself beyond their top forwards since. The concern came as eight of their first 11 goals came from three players: John Tavares (five), Matt Moulson (tw0), and P.A. Parenteau (one). The good thing for that line is they are earning their points playing extremely well together so far. Is a nickname far behind?
The Islanders did go on a three game winning streak which was snapped with a 4-1 loss in Tampa on Thursday, and just as Capuano thought the scoring concern would be abated, that game showed differently. With only 10 shots in the first two periods, Capuano began line jumbling to find a spark. In an interview with MSG Sports, Capuano had this to say about shuffling the deck:
“Our line combinations, for what ever reason, we couldn’t generate offense,” Capuano said in a post-game interview with MSG Plus. “There’s a good chance (of a shake up in lines) happening. Some guys deserve more of an opportunity, maybe some more minutes, but nothing to panic about yet.”
Among the players who seems to be under fire is forward Black Comeau. Scratched for two games, Comeau finds himself on the outside looking in and wondering where his game is, or went. Sometimes this is the thing that can get a player going, but when you’re substitute is Trevor Gillies, is there more to the tale?
For the Panthers the complete lack of scoring in the past two games is a concern, and they spent Friday’s practice getting back to basics. Working on the simple things and repeating those same drills over and over in hopes that the familiarity transfers to tonight’s game and beyond. At times in their loss to Buffalo Thursday night it seems that the Panthers were stuck in quicksand, and unable to apply any offensive zone pressure on what was a tight Buffalo defence. In order to create scoring chances and utilize their team speed, the players are aware that they must be more active in their skating.
Their scoring woes are also related to their defensive lapses, which we all have been talking about for the past two losses, both of which were shutouts. Clearing the puck, clearing the crease, and making better decisions with and without the puck, need to start taking place for this team to be successful. When you look at the TSN Gameday, it bothers me that no one is listed under the hot players section. After the successful power play barrage against Tampa last Monday night, the Panthers haven’t generated too many power play opportunities for themselves (three) in their two losses. Couple that with only four even strength goals that ranks last in the NHL, and the cause for concern is real. But not alarming.
Call it chemistry, working in sync, or just trying to do too much, it’s all going to get worked out. We’re only 6 games into the new season, and there’s no reason to panic and or start jumping off bridges. If after a dozen games we seem to be in this boat, then we can look at this much more closely. Creating offensive zone pressure is one recognizable area that needs work. The one shot and done isn’t working, when many of the shots aren’t on net, or are directly in the crest of the goaltender. Tighter forechecking will create more chances, and more reliable backchecking by the forwards will take pressure off the defence. Everyone needs to support each other as Jack Skille says (source Sun-Sentinel):
“We’ve got guys, some young players, including myself, when it’s time to get the puck out of the zone, you feel that pressure, there’s a lack of confidence there to get it out,” Skille said. “I think a little bit of it is support, too. I think we’re having trouble supporting each other sometimes on the wall, too, and that leads to turnovers.”
I’ve been saying it for a few games now. Be more physical, and be tougher to play against. If we play our game and stick to the puck possession system good things will happen. Dump and chase isn’t this teams game. Fortunately goaltending hasn’t been an area of weakness as many predicted. Jose Theodore has been strong and has put behind the “stinky” pre season, and looks solid. But he can’t be expected to stand on his head every night and need some support. Working with a lead is not only good for your goalie, it’s good for the rest of the team as well. Something tells me that there’s going to be some firepower tonight.
* The Panthers are 8-0-1 in their last 9 home games against the Islanders. Stephen Weiss has 3g-1a in the last 4 meetings.
* So far in the young season the Panthers have lost 16 man games to injury.
* Panthers lead the series in Sunrise 20-10-6-1.
* Jose Theodore has a 17-9-2 record with a .930 SV% against the Islanders with 7 shoutouts.
* John Tavares was named the NHL’s second star of the week this past Monday for his 8 point performance.
* Evgeni Nabokov recorded his 294th career win last Saturday placing him 27th all time, just behind Ron Hextall.
* The Islanders have killed 20 of 22 power play chances against them so far.
* Jay Pandolfo needs one more goal for 100 in his career.
Injuries of Note:
Rick DiPietro: Concussion, day to day.
Milan Jurcina: Groin, day to day.
Nino Niderreiter: Groin, day to day.
Scott Clemmensen: Knee, on IR
Mike Santorelli: Shoulder, on IR
Shawn Matthias: Flu, day to day (could be a game time decision)
Sean Bergenheim: Lower body, day to day. (out for tonight)
Ed Jovanovski: Lower Body, day to day. (very good chance he plays)
As always thank you for reading. We welcome your comments.
Please visit our NHL main page: Too Many Men On The Site.
Follow the Rat Pack on Twitter: me @TheRatTrick , David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Josh Luecht @joshluecht, Patrick McLaughlin @PatrickRattrick, Scott Mullin @ScottFMullin, Cameron Tahernia @Lord_Panther, and David Rodriguez @davidbub_2. Also, please join our Facebook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and make some comments.