Stack the net. - Bruce Bennett
Halfway through the Islanders' 2013 season, some peripherals have improved, but many have stayed the same.
Yes, technically the halfway point of this 48-game lockout season was two games ago. But 1) The Islanders are ending a rare (and final) three-day break in the schedule where we could step back and look at these numbers, and 2) More game data is always good.
So the following report is through 26 games -- hopefully the oddest numeric milepost we'll ever use to take the temperature of the team. But lockouts disrupt and destroy, so here we are with a 26-game "mid-season" report card. In March.
This overview is definitely open to some interpretation, and it gives us room to think as the Isles resume the busy schedule tonight in Tampa Bay. (FIG Picks for tonight go here.)
If you missed it, garik16 saved us the labor of going through the forwards with this earlier FanPost.
The Record: 2011-12 vs. 2013-13
Through 26 games of 2011-12, the Islanders were 9-11-6 for 24 points and a goal differential of minus-23. If you're wondering how much out-of-conference games affected things, not much: The record against the East at this point last season was 2-1-4.
Below is a look at their 26-game record, stripped of the NHL's three-point bonus point regime, or at least noting how many regulation victories and losses are buried in the traditional three-column record.
You'll notice by regulation results alone, their record appears slightly worse than 2011-12, as they've benefited from shootout/OT luck more through 26 games this season than they did last season. However, there is a goal differential (including empty net goals...sorry) contrast that hints at something else...
|Through 26 GP||Wreg||OT||SO||Lreg||OT||SO||GF||GA||Home||Road|
In shots per game, the Islanders in 2013 remain even at 30.2 shots for and allowed per game, a modest improvement worth watching compared to 2011-12, when their full-season differential was 29.4 for and 30.1 allowed (which itself was a big improvement over 2010-11, when they were 29.4 for vs. 32.0 against). Those totals are not filtered for special teams and extra time, etc.
Also in comparisons to last year's full season, this year the Isles are producing at 23% on the powerplay and 80.2% on the penalty kill, whereas in 2011-12 (full season) their percentages finished at 18.5% and 80.5%.
So the offense is more productive, partly because the powerplay is more productive, and shot prevention is around the same, though it's on par with their offensive shots for the first time in a long time.
At 5-on-5 -- an issue throughout this rebuild and always a good quick gauge of a team -- their goal differential ratio in 2011-12 (full season) was 0.74 (30th overall). This year through 26 games it's at 0.79 (27th overall). In that category the middle third of teams tend to range, not surprisingly, between 0.90 and 1.10.
The weak even strength goaltending has been oft-noted, and might even be so bad as to expect some regression in the positive direction. In fact, a look at PDO (even strength shooting percentage + save percentage, which tends to trend toward 1.000 over time) betrays that their shooting percentage is quite within the normal range, but their even strength goaltending is dragging them down.
Finally, in possession based on Fenwick/Close (shots through toward the net when the score is close, a proxy for possession when neither team is in prevent mode) the team has a 49.18% share of possession, which ranks them 20th overall and among a handful of teams that are close to either side of 50%.
In 2011-12, for the whole season that figure was ... also 49.18%, which ranked them 18th overall and within a hair of anywhere from 15th to 19th.
On a team level, is there progress here, or is it more of the same? Should we blame the goaltending for letting them down, or note they wouldn't be within reach of the playoff bubble without a very productive powerplay?
And regardless or including those questions, where are the opportunities for improvement as the busy game pace resumes for the second half?