The Islanders power play has been weighed and measured for these 16 games, and it has officially been found wanting.
Coach Barry Trotz Monday gave every indication that there would be a major shift in both power play units, while practice indicated that there might be some pretty significant lineup changes, too – and potentially healthy scratches for Anthony Beauvillier and Adam Pelech as the team looks to snap a three-game losing streak against the surprising Canucks on Tuesday.
Trotz said he’s currently doing away with the idea of a first and second unit, and instead will play whichever group has the hot hand. To wit, Mathew Barzal moved down to the “second” unit, and to the right side, along with Andrew Ladd, who hasn’t manned the power play all year, Brock Nelson, Cal Clutterbuck and Johnny Boychuk. Anders Lee, Josh Bailey, Jordan Eberle, Nick Leddy and Ryan Pulock, moving up from the second unit, skated with the first crew. The changes, Trotz said, were put together after a 15-game assessment period, “assessing what everybody does really, really well and doesn’t do well, so just some changes will hopefully give us some more production,” he said.
Lee added that mixing things up “always rejuvenates things a little bit and kinda changes anything that was getting stagnant up and definitely brings a little bit of life into it . It forces you to engage a little bit with your linemates and stuff like that because things are different.”
The Islanders power play was 0-for-4 in their 4-2 loss to the Panthers Saturday, and 1-for-19 during the skid.
“There wasn’t a shooting mentality,” Trotz said. “We’re trying to get a little more of that…When everyone is a playmaker, there’s no plays that get made…There’s not enough guys thinking shot.”
Additionally, Beauvillier, who’s only scored a single point in 15 games and was already bounced from the second line and the power play last week, skated with the fourth line and split time with Ross Johnston – possibly pointing to a future spot on the bench. Luca Sbisa took Pelech’s spot alongside Boychuk, while Pelech paired up with Dennis Seidenberg, who isn’t even on the roster.
After, Trotz said the Islanders could eventually benefit from this patch of adversity, the first one they’ve really experienced this year.
“Two things happen to this team when teams go into funks,” he said. “Everybody wants to play the blame game. It’s the power play, it’s the penalty kill, it’s the coach, it’s the management, whatever. The teams that come out of the other end, if you let them fight through the adversity, and there’s no blame someone for this or blame someone for that – what happens is those teams always come out better on the other side. They become more resilient. They become better teams.”
Matt Martin (upper body) skated with the team but still isn’t ready to return to full action. Trotz said he’s making good progress.