Kevin SchultzThat’s probably a familiar phrase for anyone who watched the Islanders 1-0 loss to Carolina last night.
The team didn’t get very many shots on goal — only 21 in all, which is the third lowest total of the season thus far and down from their season average of 30.3 shots per game (an average that includes Thursday night). You can probably guess which two games this year had lower shot totals, too. They were the back-to-backs on the road in Chicago and Nashville, which was easily the Islanders’ worst stretch of the year thus far. While last night’s game wasn’t good, it certainly wasn’t as bad as those two efforts.
The Islanders did generate chances in the offensive zone especially early on in the first period. The Carolina broadcasters had a good observation that the Islanders were getting the puck low an awful lot in that first period, which opened up their point men for shots from the blue line. The problem was that the defensemen weren’t getting shots through and on net.
The Islanders, as a team, missed the net a lot last night. Twenty-three shots went wide of the net in all, which is more than the amount that hit the net (21). Eight of the 23 missed were from blue liners including four from Thomas Hickey. John Tavares was uncharacteristically off the mark, with five misses. Also, eight of the 13 blocks the Canes had came from shots from Islanders defenders, including another three from Hickey.
So the Islanders had some opportunities last night but in a lot of instances they weren’t able to turn them into shots on goal or scoring chances. This defense is offensive minded — Justin Peters had an amazing sprawling save on Thomas Hickey in one instance — but there’s no cannon of a shot on the blue line right now. They’ve got to find other ways to get pucks through. Maybe it was Carolina doing an excellent job of clogging lanes. Maybe when the opposing defense stretches as the Isles forwards send the puck to the top of the zone, the Islanders need to cycle the puck back down low to try and make the defense run around in it’s own zone more and get the puck on the stick of their scorers.
It was the most shots missing the net this the season for the Isles, with the only other game coming remotely close to last night’s total of 23 was in Ottawa last week when they missed the net 21 times in that game. But in that game it was a quantity thing, as the Islanders had more than 50 shots hit the net. Generally speaking, the team has missed the net on 8-15 shots per game this year.
Thursday night was a frustrating loss as shot after shot went wide. It was first time the Islanders had been held to less than two goals all year and the third time they held an opponent to less than two, so it was a rare low-scoring game. It’s also the worst the Islanders have shot as a team so far this year, which could explain part of the goose egg that they put up on the scoreboard. Hopefully it’s an outlier — it was their most misses of the year after all — and not a trend that continues.