TODAY'S PAPER
58° Good Afternoon
58° Good Afternoon
SportsHockeyIslanders

Islanders' defense producing on offense

Nick Leddy #2 of the New York Islanders

Nick Leddy #2 of the New York Islanders celebrates his second-period goal against the San Jose Sharks with teammate Kyle Okposo #21 at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

There's been nothing wrong with the Islanders' offense through eight games. A big part of that is the offense being contributed by their defensemen.

They have scored eight goals, second in the league behind Calgary's nine, and the Isles are tied with the Sharks for the most even-strength goals from defensemen with six.

It's a sharp contrast from recent seasons, when the Islanders' defense was among the least productive. The Isles had 23 goals from defensemen last season and 19 in 2012-13 and 2011-12. That actually marked 2012-13 as a good season, as it was only 48 games long.

Led by recent addition Nick Leddy, the Isles' defense is making an effort to join the rush when the team has the puck. And they're succeeding, as when Lubomir Visnovsky raced to take a feed from Kyle Okposo and beat Stars goaltender Anders Lindback on Saturday to even that wild game at 4.

"The message has been the same ever since I've been here for three years. I just think we've got guys that are better at it now," said Thomas Hickey, who has one of the eight goals. "The two new guys [Leddy and Johnny Boychuk] are better at it. Me, [Brian] Strait and Cal [de Haan], we're getting better and learning when to go better, getting more comfortable."

It's tempting to think that all this focus on joining the offensive rush is costing the Islanders in their own end, and it's true that they've given up too many goals. They lead the NHL with 22 even-strength goals but have allowed 18 even-strength goals, tied for 19th.

But Hickey noted that the Islanders aren't giving up immediate rushes the other way. "There haven't been two-on-ones I can think of," he said.

After years with the stingy Bruins, Boychuk said it's an adjustment to be on a team that allows as many goals as the Islanders have. "Maybe the biggest thing I can think of is we're giving guys too much space in our own end," he said. "But we're all producing, it's not just one or two guys. As long as we score more than them, there isn't much to complain about."

Notes & quotes: Defenseman Travis Hamonic (upper body) and forward Josh Bailey (broken hand) skated before practice Monday and coach Jack Capuano said both are likely to be on the five-game road trip that begins Thursday in Denver . . . Goalie Jaroslav Halak is likely to get the start Tuesday night against the Jets after Chad Johnson won the previous two games.

Comments

We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

New York Sports