Defensive Woes Continue: New System or Same Problems?

While the Islanders’ 7-5 win over the Dallas Stars was a very exciting game to watch from an offensive standpoint, it was almost equally as unbearable to watch from a defensive standpoint. Yes, it is fun to watch our team light the lamp continuously, and yes it is good to see that we have secondary scoring (which I will get to at some point down the road). But, the Islanders can't keep up this type of play if they hope to make it deep in to the playoffs.  With the way the Defense and Goaltenders have been performing, it's just a matter of time before the team implodes, unless changes are made.

59 times last year the Islanders allowed 3 or more goals in a game. Of those 59 games, they only won 13 of them. Defense and Goaltending have been the main topic of conversation for quite some time, and while the acquisitions of Boychuck and Leddy may have silenced Islesnation for a bit, these stats continue to be a problem.

In 7 out of the 8 games the Isles have played this season, they have allowed 3 or more goals, so clearly their defensive woes have carried over into this season. Luckily, out of those 7 games, 5 of them have resulted in Islander wins due to the massive amount of scoring the Isles have racked up. But as great as the latter stat is, we cannot assume that the Isles will replicate their scoring output of 3.88 gf/gp every night. If that is the hope for this team, then we can wave goodbye to the playoffs right now, and watch, as our last season at the Coliseum becomes a huge disappointment.

With many dark spots surrounding the Isles Defense, there are still a few light spots here and there.  For instance, the offensive output that the defense is putting forward is the best the Isles have had in years.  Johnny Boychuck and Nick Leddy have certainly helped contribute to what has been a lackluster offensive-defense over the years. But is it possible that we are sacrificing defense for the sake of offense. Don't get me wrong, I love the fact the Boychuck, Leddy and Visnovsky are putting points up at fast pace. However, the team’s priority right now should be limiting the other teams scoring chances, not defensive scoring.

Surprisingly, odd-man rushes haven't been the problem either. It's been the amount of pressure that they have been applying on teams in their zone. From what I have seen, all that the other teams have needed to do has been to get into the zone and get the puck back up top. Once there, the Isles apply very little pressure to the point men. Instead, they focus on the men down low, and this has not been there strength. They focus on the men down low and then get beat to rebounds off of shots from the point which are going uncontested.

This is not the same system that the team played in last year. Last year, players were trying to get in the shooting lanes, block shots, and apply pressure to the players up top who had the puck. This system still lead to an unsettling amount of G.A., but at least there was some pressure being applied.  Nobody seems to be skating in there own zone. And once they actually get the puck away from the opposing team, they suddenly panic and try and dump it out of the zone, unaware that they have plenty of skating room to take it out.

This defense is shaky to say the least, and like always, it is up to the coaches (Greg Cronin specifically), and players to find a system that fits for this team. I would like to see more games won 2-1 or 1-0 over then next couple of weeks. The best teams in the League are doing it, so I think it is about time that we do it.

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(courtesy of myself)