Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter
As Islanders Scratchpad returns for another season, the New York Islanders are five games into the 2017-18 campaign and sit with 50 percent of possible points (2-2-1). The team will wrap up their west coast swing on Sunday night in Los Angeles.
1 - Joshua Ho-Sang, after being a healthy scratch for the opener and suffering some rookie mistakes over the next three games, turned in his best effort of the season last night, collecting his team-leading fourth assist. He was a threat on zone entries and was active defensively, something the youngster needs to continue to do consistently to stay in the lineup.
2 - Mathew Barzal, similarly, played his best game as well (coincidence?) as he came close on a couple of occasions to notching his first NHL point. There is a feeling this kid is getting ready to break out in a big way.
3 - Ryan Strome has not been endearing himself to the Edmonton Oilers faithful early on. While I know fans can be illogical sometimes, Strome also took some heat from the coaching staff in pre-season. Here's hoping it's just a rough adjustment period for the former first-round pick and he gets things figured out.
4 - From the Islanders' perspective, that trade is looking like an absolute steal. I know you might not be able to tell from the early season production, but Jordan Eberle (three assists in five games) is so much more consistently dangerous in the offensive zone than Strome ever was. Not to mention, Eberle's 5v5 Corsi is 59.2%.
5 - Anders Lee certainly looks much stronger on his skates than ever and seems to have added a little straight line speed to his game coming off summer workouts. With two goals in his first five games and being one of the few forwards willing to take up residence in front of the opposing goaltender, the underrated label could be coming off the 27-year old forward.
6 - I'm never afraid to publicly admit when I'm wrong, and so far, I was way off the mark with Scott Mayfield. The young blue-liner has come in and played steady, consistent, responsible hockey in his own zone and surpassed, at least for now, Ryan Pulock as the team's sixth regular in the rotation. Not to mention, he's one of the few left who play a truly physical style.
7 - Speaking of Pulock, he'll get in there sooner or later, and it will be on him alone to prove he can play in his own end. So far, he has yet to do that to the coaching staff and the league does not have much room for one-dimensional, 'specialty' defenseman.
8 - Last night, through four failed power plays that generated only five shots, at least New York was more willing to throw pucks 'at' the net instead of passing it around the outside. Zone entries have been a huge issue as well as players being too stagnant, not moving enough to get themselves into prime scoring locations. I don't think Pulock can help in any of those areas right now.
9 - Thomas Hickey leads all Islanders defenseman with a 58.3% 5v5 Corsi, driving possession when he is on the ice. I'm not sure what it's going to take for fans to realize the 28-year old Calgary native is a lot better than he's been given credit for. He plays much bigger than his 6'0 (listed) size and has taken his fair share of licks, leading the team in hits taken over the past four years. Throw in 20 points per season and you have yourself a nice fourth D-man.
10 - On the struggle bus is clearly Calvin de Haan and Josh Bailey, both who have not had the best starts to the year. Calvin is struggling with turnovers and coverage, and you have to wonder how much discord built up over the summer regarding his contract. He did look a little better last night, so let's hope that is a trend and not an anomaly. Bailey has been invisible, yet still drawing PP1 time.
11 - After Anthony Beauvillier took regular line rushes in practice last night, he was then listed as a healthy scratch just prior to game time, with Jason Chimera taking his place. I thought he could have tweaked something, but Doug Weight confirmed after the game that was not the case. I'm not going to always agree with Weight's decision-making and this is a head scratcher, for sure. Let's see if 72 draws in tonight.
I'kk be back with you next week as I look to add a 'topic of the week' for quick discussion. Tweet what you want to hear about to me @AndyGraz_SNY, and as always, thanks for reading.