Isles Issues: It's Not Just The Defense
It's been repeated dozens of times before: the Islanders defense is not as good as it needs to be, and the goaltending between the pipes is a major area of concern. But what hasn't been acknowledged is that the Isles offense, which has more or less been excused, needs improvement as well (Photo credit: THEFANBLOG/Flickr).
There's no denying that Matt Carkner's play has been less than superb, and that Matt Donovan has continued to make the expected rookie mistakes. Both of these players, combined with injuries to Brian Strait, Lubomir Visnovsky and most recently Thomas Hickey, have led to Travis Hamonic and most notably Andrew MacDonald being forced into accepting more minutes and responsibility that is perhaps too much for this duo to handle on a nightly basis.
Add that Visnovsky's veteran leadership has been missing for quite some time now and you have every hockey pundit saying "ya think?!" when asked if the Isles defense may be one of the reasons why they have slid in the standings.
But see if you can answer this: aside from John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Thomas Vanek (while healthy) and Frans Nielsen, where has the offense come for this team?
Nowhere else at all.
Tavares, Nielsen and Okposo have 27 and 22 points respectively while appearing in all 24 games played. Vanek, who has only dressed for eight games with the Isles this year has six points in that span.
When looking at the stats, the next offensive threat for the Isles is Josh Bailey and his 10 points over 24 games.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard follows with 9 points on the year, with Michael Grabner's 8 points right behind him. The stats then continue with a steady decline from players who are not relied upon to score goals and make plays, such as Colin McDonald, Casey Cizikas and Brock Nelson, who is only in his rookie year and not expected to be a consistent contributor this early in his career.
That leaves the Islanders with only four offensive "weapons" on their top three lines. Players such as Grabner, Bailey and Peter Regin (who has only four points on the year) have not scored goals since the very early games of the season. Grabner's only two goals came during the first game of the year where Bailey's last goal came exactly a month ago today as the deciding play against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Regin's lone goal came on Oct 8th vs. the Phoenix Coyotes.
The argument can be made that a stronger defense would lead to more offensive opportunities and thus a higher scoring rate for the Islanders offense.
But the same argument can be made that a lack of offensive depth is allowing the opposition to spend too much time in the Islanders defensive zone, thus leading to more turnovers and goals scored against.
Either way, despite the heavy criticism of the d-corps of this team, the offense (or lack thereof) is just as much to blame.