So much to discuss after an emphatic win last night and a well played (albeit 1-1 split) back-to-back weekend with the Penguins, who looked spent and devoid of answers last night.
The Islanders finished February in a strong position (third in the division in points, fourth in points percentage, a division-high 11 regulation wins, a functioning power play) that should put the pause on some of our angst felt during the ups and downs. Of course things can change quickly, and a busy schedule lies ahead, with a game every other night from here to eternity.
In the post-game, Barry Trotz spoke about how the team is “close” to being able to roll four lines over the boards — regardless of situation — again. That came in response to questions about Oliver Wahlstrom, who continues to progress and have the right approach to The Process, but Trotz also took the occasion to praise the subtle effectiveness of Michael Dal Colle. In fact, it was the latter that had Trotz saying, if they stay healthy, he likes what he has.
Almost all coaches like predictability, but Trotz teaches it and expects it to the extreme, and he couples that with the ability to convince his players to buy into that, to persuade them that if they do, good things will happen. As a coach, Trotz is a calm, steady long-term investor who doesn’t appear on TV or look for attention: Just play the percentages, adhere with discipline to your fundamentals, don’t get too high or too low about short-term ups and downs, and you’ll be in position to excel.
So it doesn’t matter that Dal Colle isn’t a scorer like he was in juniors, and it doesn’t matter that the offense from Oliver is yet to come or, at the moment, power play dependent. If they play their roles and follow their assignments, they’ll retain Trotz’s trust. (As always, it helps to be lined up to J-G Pageau, the Swiss Army knife.)
Oh, and another really promising showing from Ilya Sorokin, and Noah Dobson continues to grow. The Islanders don’t have a deep prospect pool and are basically in a win-now direction; if they’re to have a chance of repeating last season’s success, they’ll need that full-on execution of Trotz’s systems, strong goaltending, and contributions from their cheaper players. February finished with a nice helping of all three.
- About last night: Suffocating play, Ilya Sorokin strong, and two power play goals. [LHH | AMNY | Newsday | NHL | Isles | Post | Pitt Post Gazette | PensBurgh]
- Speaking of Wahlstrom, who was in the post-game again and discussed enjoying the learning process. [Newsday]
Trotz on Sorokin, and a bit of what I referenced above with the young players:
“The role models we have in our room - they give a lot of support to the young guys… You correct your habits when you get a chance to talk to some great veteran players that can help you along, and we have some really good ones."— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 1, 2021
Trotz ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/DsvAJfRGe8
Good night and good month for Oliver, yeah?
how it started how it’s going #Isles pic.twitter.com/WtwdUC3rDN— IslesBlog (@IslesBlog) March 1, 2021
Pageau was again in the post-game press pairing with Wahlstrom:
JG Pageau on Oliver Wahlstrom: "His attitude is top-notch on and off the ice... He's doing the right things and paying attention to all the details and that's how you get better... He's doing everything possible to be apart of this team." #Isles— Joe Pantorno (@JoePantorno) March 1, 2021
What I took from this is that the Islanders once beat a Lemieux team 9-0:
Since Kelly Hrudey blanked Pens, 9-0, on Long Island on Jan. 9, 1986, NYI have gone 189 regular season GP vs. Pens without a shutout.— Bob Grove (@bobgrove91) March 1, 2021
Of course, it wouldn’t be an NHL game with some mind-boggling, blatantly absurd officiating decisions:
If the NHL wanted more goals, they would call these one-handed slashes when there is absolutely no attempt to play the puck. https://t.co/d7dsFRRUAs— Travis Flynn (@NDRedEagle) March 1, 2021
Yesterday’s other NHL scores included the Bruins, Flyers and Capitals each picking up regulation wins to keep pace.
- The Blue Jackets have lost five in a row (including two in a row to the Predators), so John Tortorella restates that he cannot worry about his job security. [NHL]
- The Panthers place Brett Connolly on waivers. [TSN]
- The uncertainty around the 2021 draft affects various prospects in different ways. [Sportsnet]
- AUSTON MATTHEWS HEALTH WATCH CONTINUES. It’s about all TSN covers these days. [TSN]
- Vegas has quickly terminated its partnership with some company that has something to do with betting. [ESPN]