Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter
The New York Islanders lost their first game in regulation at Barclays Center this season Friday night to the Ottawa Senators, a wild 6-5 affair, and the reaction on social media from some was….well, sadly, expected.
We are 25 games in and the Islanders have captured 64 percent of all possible points, still not having lost consecutive games in regulation time this season. The offense is third in the NHL in goals for and first in goals per game. Sure, there are things to clean up in the defensive end, but let's face it...this team's pretty darn good.
- Doug Weight is now 39-20-6 as head coach of the Islanders since taking over for Jack Capuano. I've said it before and I'll say it again, he's terrific with the media, his post-game press conferences are almost a can't-miss, and players love playing for him. The only question for Weight is can his run-and-gun system work in the long run?
- Great to see Jason Chimera, who has been playing much better as of late, get off the snide and notch his first goal off the season Friday. What I, and the coaching staff and all his teammates love more, is his comments afterwards. "I'd give up the goal in a heartbeat for the win. Doesn't mean much in a loss."
- Yes, Josh Bailey still leads the team in scoring with 30 points in 25 games. Yes, John Tavares still leads the team in goals with 16. But don't sleep on Anders Lee, who now has 15 goals and is quickly proving his 34-goal output from last season was no fluke and Mathew Barzal, who has 24 points in 25 games and is playing with unworldly confidence.
- How good has Jordan Eberle been for the Islanders? Even before he was scoring (five goals in his past 10 games after none in his first 10) he was doing so many of the 'little things' right and generating tons of offense. His instant chemistry with Barzal proves that playing with the team's best player is not always the answer. Eberle is already halfway to his 2016-17 goal total.
- In 'strange stats of the day', the bottom five teams in the NHL in faceoff percentage (including the Islanders) are a combined 77-40-11.
- There has been much talk about the Islanders goaltending, and rightfully so. It just hasn't been good. They are sixth -- from the bottom -- in goals allowed per game at 3.24 and their team save percentage of .900 is way below the league average of .911. While the defense, from defenseman and forwards, plays a large part in that, Thomas Greiss and Jaroslav Halak have combined to give up some softies more often than you would like to see. There is no quick fix. This is your tandem until next summer when maybe, just maybe, we see Linus Soderstrom, who for the record, has had a slow start in the Swedish Elite League in 2017 (2.76, .893 in 12 starts).
- Ryan Pulock was scratched a good portion of the week after Doug Weight said he needs to see him shoot more and play more physical. Friday, Pulock passed up a glorious chance to shoot in the first period and struggled a bit defensively (granted, most of the team did). You have to wonder, if push comes to shove at the February deadline, if he's as untouchable as he seemed during the off-season.
- Driving possession? The Barzal line seems to do that every shift. And advanced statistics are proving that out. In 5v5 Corsi, Andrew Ladd (57.1), Eberle (56.3) and Barzal (55.5) lead the team by a wide margin over the fourth leader (Hickey, 52.8). Barzal also leads the team in penalties drawn with 10, three more than Brock Nelson and Joshua Ho-Sang.
- We will learn a lot more about this team come next Monday after a tough four-game trip that takes them to Florida, Tampa, Pittsburgh and Boston. Starting with the December 11 game against the Washington Capitals, they will play eight of 11 in Brooklyn to close out the calendar year.