Islanders look for ways to get through tough checking after loss to Kings
When it was over, the Islanders were able to accurately diagnose the ailment.
As far as prescribing a singular cure to remedy the malady, though, that is where opinions varied. And with 20 games remaining in their season, beginning Sunday in Winnipeg, time is of the essence.
To a man, the Islanders did not feel as if they were vastly outplayed in Friday night’s 3-2 loss to the Kings at UBS Arena. And there is some merit to their argument, as it was a low-event game between two teams attempting to solidify their playoff positioning.
Indeed, even though the Islanders were outshot 28-18, the number of total shot attempts only slightly favored the Kings, 45-44. That’s the positive. The negative was that all three of Los Angeles’ goals came in a span of 5 minutes and 34 seconds midway through the second period. That’s when the game was decided.
Along with being outscored 3-1 in the period, the Islanders were outshot 12-8 and seemed to spend the entirety of the 20 minutes chasing the puck.
“Second period obviously got away from us a little bit,” said Noah Dobson, whose power-play strike with 3:26 left in the second accounted for the first of the Islanders’ two goals. “They’re a good team. They play with a lot of speed, get on top of you [really quickly], but obviously we have to have a little better second period than we did.”
So the question then became where did the Islanders need to improve?
This is where opinions differed.
During his postgame news conference, Lane Lambert credited the Kings’ forecheck for making it difficult for the Islanders to move the puck out of the defensive zone and creating and sustaining a forecheck.
“Just move [the puck] quicker,” Lambert said when asked what the Islanders needed to do to create an offensive attack against a team whose defensive structure he praised. “They do a really good job of getting to positions where they take away passing lanes. So as much as we want to move it quickly at times, there [weren’t] any options there, so it did slow the game down.”
When the Islanders did break out of the defensive zone, observed Zach Parise, the Kings clogged the neutral zone.
“It was tough to get through,” Parise said.
As Kyle Palmieri pointed out, the Islanders were able to create a bit of havoc when their defensemen jumped into the play. Such as when Adam Pelech carried the puck under the right faceoff circle before his centering pass to Matt Martin ricocheted off Matt Roy’s skate into the net for the final goal of the game with 4:37 left.
Said Palmieri, “When our ‘D’ are aggressive, kind of on their toes, it’s a little bit easier to keep pucks in and gets [opponents] moving a bit.”