PHILADELPHIA — The Islanders’ power play has the yips.
OK, maybe it’s a little bit more nuanced than that, but after another day and another futile offensive effort by the Isles’ special teams, coach Barry Trotz acknowledged that this particular problem may be self-perpetuating.
On Saturday, it manifested in the power play going 0-for-5, including two opportunities with a five-on-three. The Isles also squandered one of those against the Canadiens in their 4-0 loss Thursday. They are 1-for-36 on the power play in the past 15 games.
“It’s just like anything; it gets in the back of your head,” Trotz said. “You try to get too fine. At home, it’s no different than when someone is booing you and you’re going, ‘OK, I’ve got to make a great play.’ Just play.”
Saturday’s first man-up opportunity came only 26 seconds into the game, with Josh Bailey in for Mathew Barzal with the first unit. That turned into the first five-on-three, when Robert Hagg earned a double-minor for high-sticking. The Islanders lost that advantage not even a minute later when they had too many men on the ice.
The second five-on-three, 2:16 into the third period, was a sloppy, listless affair with only two shots on goal — neither particularly threatening — and two errant passes that got the puck out of the Flyers’ zone.
The momentum seemed to shift to the Flyers then, Bailey said, as the Islanders’ own lack of execution energized a crowd begging for something to cheer about.
“You get a full two minutes on the five-on-three, you have to capitalize, especially at that time in the game, and we didn’t,” Bailey said. “We had some looks, you’re going to get some looks, the goalie made some saves, but all in all, we need to find a way to be a little bit better in those situations.”
Johnny Boychuk felt it, too. “When they killed off that five-on-three, they got a huge lift from their crowd,” he said.
And though the Islanders have survived relatively well with a lackluster power play, they can ill afford that type of momentum shift now with seven games left in the regular season, a playoff berth and home-ice advantage in the balance, and a postseason full of teams who know how to capitalize on weaknesses.
“The windows of opportunity are very short on the power play, and if you’re double-clutching it, that window closes and suddenly you’re forcing it and it’s frustrating,” Trotz said by way of explanation.
“We just gotta get a little bit more confident on it and get a day to practice it again, retool it a little bit and see if we can get some success with it. We’ve just got to stay with it.”
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