There hasn't been close to enough of this at even strength for the Islanders this season.
Teams go though scoring slumps throughout the season. Last year during the Islanders 14-game winless streak they managed to score only 13 even strength goals.Despite the struggles during the streak, in the other 68 games of the season the Isles managed to score 137 even strength goals.
So to question the capabilities of the Islanders offense only nine games into the season may be a bit premature. But if you take away the 5-1 victory over the Lightning, the Islanders have scored a paltry six even strength goals in eight games this season.
And while it is easy to blame the usual suspects for the offensive woes (or should I say, the third line), all of the lines have struggled to score at even strength in those eight games.The first line has only scored two even strength goals in that time. The second line has scored only three, and the third line has put up a big, fat zero goals at even strength.
The simplest solution could be switching up the lines. Maybe, with almost an eighth of the season in the books, it's time to start experimenting with different combinations. But if you listen to the Islanders themselves, it doesn't sound like they agree with that theory.
Coach Jack Capuano on the team's performance:
"I liked that team tonight. Top to bottom, I thought everybody brought energy and urgency to their game tonight and I was proud of the way that they played."
John Tavares' take:
"We did a lot of good things tonight. Our game has come a long way and if we play like that and understand that's the way we've got to play, with a little more desperation and the way we were moving our feet and we were creating opportunities...we're going to win a lot more hockey games"
and Michael Grabner on the subject:
"We're getting better every game and were sending solid five-man units on the ice today."
So are they correct in their assessment? Here's a look at the scoring chance numbers from Saturday's game against the Sharks.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
The Islanders managed a respectable 16 scoring chances at even strength against the Sharks. The first line created four of those chances, the second and third line three each, and the fourth line created one scoring chance. The other five were created by mix and match lines created during shift changes.
With the top three lines all creating a handful of chances apiece at even strength, maybe the Islanders are right. Maybe chemistry isn't the issue. Maybe its just an issue of execution needing to be better, or maybe the Isles could just be running into some good opposing goalie performances here in the early season.
I believe it's a little bit of both, and if the Islanders aren't just saying the right things, I'd expect to see the forward lines stay the same for the immediate future.