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Trending: Islanders Even-Strength Play Improving

Special teams dip and recent losses have masked improvement at 5v5

NHL: New York Islanders at Anaheim Ducks
They can play this game.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

All stats (via offsidereview and Natural Stat Trick) do not include the non-NYI games taking place Sunday, November 11th.

While the results of the past two games have been disappointing for the Islanders, dropping consecutive 4-2 losses to the Lightning and Panthers, the 5v5 play as of late appears to be improving in terms of controlling play and out-shooting opponents the past few games.

The Isles have outscored opponents 14 to 10 at 5v5 in the past six games (@PIT, PIT, NJD, MTL, @TBL, @FLA), while supported by the 15th best 5v5 save percentage (.929) over that strech. During this time NYI have been near 50% for adjusted shot-share:

  • 52% expected goals-for
  • 50% unblocked shot attempts
  • 47% scoring-chance shot attempts
  • 52% high-danger scoring-chance shot attempts

In fact, three of the four NYI centers have been above 50% for on-ice expected goals the past six games, while Filppula’s line has seen improvement as well:

Above chart offsidereview data.

The Islanders have controlled quality scoring chances with Anders Lee on the ice at 5v5, whether with Nelson or with Barzal at center. Here are the leaders in the on-ice expected-goals stat over the past six games: (xGF% prior to past six games in parentheses)

  • 66% Lee (39%)
  • 65% Cizikas (47%)
  • 58% Mayfield (46%)
  • 57% Nelson (41%)
  • 56% Boychuk (49%)
  • 54% Barzal (45%)
  • 53% Clutterbuck (58%)
  • 53% Hickey (46%)

We are still working with small sample sizes this early in the season, but it is certainly worth watching to see which players/lines/pairs can maintain a compelling expected-goals rate over a good run of games.

The past week the Islanders have been burnt by special teams underachieving, unforced errors, and goaltending coming back down to Earth, but this may be the start of the team solidifying its 5v5 play under new coach Barry Trotz.