The ousting of Jack Capuano marks the end of an era for the New York Islanders. Others have already posted plenty of words about that here and elsewhere. But with the ousting of Cappy, we should probably expect at least some change in systems to occur for the Isles, even if Garth Snow acted like not much would change in that department.
After all, even if Doug Weight and the rest of the bench bought into Cappy's schemes, they're hardly likely to want to keep them the exact same when those approaches got Cappy fired and no one left has much job security.
This doesn't mean things get better, of course. To use the Capitals as an example, they followed up that jerkwad Dale Hunter with Adam Oates, who...was at least as bad as Muller in tanking the Caps for a few years.
That said, the key thing here is that we'll get to see how certain players in particular do when not in Capuano's exact schemes. And that's pretty important going forward - you see, pretty much every Islander is performing worse this year in corsi (Shot%), meaning more time in the defensive zone, less time in the offensive, and less chances to score:
Figure 1: A Graph Showing Islander Players' Corsi the Last Two Years. Note that Shane Prince's 14-15 # is solely his time playing with Thomas Greiss behind him, as a way to separate out his #s with Ottawa.
Here are a few Islanders to keep an eye on going forward as the new regime gets its' schemes in place:
Shane Prince was somewhat of an analytics darling in Ottawa last year - he had some of the best possession #s on the team and reasonably solid scoring #s, but was rarely given any chances to get prime minutes. So for a few people who paid attention, the Isles' acquisition of Prince seemed like a coup.
Except Prince's numbers with the Isles...were poor. Easily the worst Islander in terms of possession in the regular season, Prince seemed like a failure by the same metrics that cheered him previously. And then he improved massively in the postseason and a thought was that maybe it was just adjusting to a different system that caused the problem.
Well, while he has shown glimpses of that great speed and skill this year, the numbers once again have him at the bottom of the team in corsi. But really, Prince's entire time with the Isles has come under a Jack Capuano team that has seemed to get worse over time in possession.
Maybe Cappy was the real cause here? We're about to find out.
Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson
Brock Nelson broke into the league with a rookie year where he was a clear force in terms of driving play - as I wrote at the time, he made EVERYONE he played with better. And then.....that possession driving disappeared completely - he wasn't a drag on the team's corsi, but he didn't have a positive impact either, particularly the last two years (and his numbers this year are poor). The scoring has been good, but the possession poor.
Ryan Strome's first three years were also strong in terms of driving play. The scoring collapsed last year, but you could explain that by bad shooting luck and again, he WAS driving play. And this year's he's one of the worst possession drivers on the team.
In short, both "kids" have showed huge potential in underlying numbers only to collapse the last year or two in those same numbers. If the Isles want to get back to the playoffs quickly, this needs to course correct.
Perhaps Cappy was ruining their developments? We have enough games left this season to see if maybe that is the case.
Nick Leddy/Travis Hamonic
Travis Hamonic - in the midst of constant trade talk - had a career year last year in terms of corsi, being basically the best Islander on the team all year.
Nick Leddy had a "down" year last year, but was still one of our best defenders last year after putting up elite #s in his first year with the Isles.
The pair of these defenders SHOULD have the best results of any Islander defensive pair, even against tough competition, and if not, it should be because of other players overperforming.
Instead, both players are in the bottom 10 in Corsi IN THE ENTIRE LEAGUE this year. As the graph above showed, this is a HUGE collapse even from last year. And there's no reason for this decline I can think of -- Leddy is still carrying in the puck quite a bit, and both players are both still in their primes.
This is basically the big reason Cappy should've been fired a long time ago -- when even your best players aren't putting up good numbers they have in the past, the problem isn't personnel, it's that something has happened to the personnel. And the obvious thing was coaching.
If these awful numbers persist, well, the Isles are in MUCH bigger trouble than could ever have been anticipated. This should be priority #1 for the team to fix, and we should pay great attention to whether it actually happens.