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Numbers reflect Islanders’ decline to last in Eastern Conference

John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders

John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders plays the puck in the third period against Olli Maatta #3 of the Pittsburgh Penguins at Barclays Center on Friday, Nov. 18, 2016. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

ANAHEIM, California — There are all sorts of viewpoints on advanced metrics and their place in the NHL. You won’t find much discussion of Corsi inside the Islanders dressing room, but you don’t need to be a devoted stat-head or a committed “eye test” believer to know that the Islanders haven’t generated enough offense and have given up too many scoring chances this season.

With just one game in the past eight days heading into Tuesday night’s game here with the Ducks, the Islanders players and coaches have had time to dissect their failures and frustrations in this 5-8-4 season.

For a couple of Islanders who were asked about the team’s problems generating and preventing, it starts in the defensive zone.

“It’s frustrating when you’re running around the D zone so much, you’re so tired that when you get the puck you just have to dump it in and change,” Ryan Strome said. “I think it all stems from our own end. When we break out clean, we help our D and we have time and space to make a play. When you’re hemmed in your zone for 40 seconds you’re not going down to have a 25-second offensive zone shift.”

In the Isles’ breakout 2014-15 season, breakouts are exactly what the Isles did well. They generated speed and space and the numbers reflected that — their Corsi (shots attempted) for rate at even strength was 63.9 shots per 60 minutes, second in the NHL that season.

Ever since, it’s declined. They were at 57.1 shots per 60 last season, 14th in the league. Through 17 games this season, it’s 55.2 shots per 60 and that ranks 18th.

A decent team can get by in the middle of the pack as long as it’s preventing shots and chances and those pucks aren’t going in at an alarming rate.

But the Isles’ opponents are generating more with each passing year. They allowed 56.4 shots per 60 in 2014-15, 58 shots per 60 last season and now 65 shots per 60 this season, 29th in the NHL.

Add in the sub-.910 save percentages for Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss and there’s evidence of why the Islanders sit last in the Eastern Conference.

“It’s maybe snowballed a little bit,” John Tavares said. “I’ve always stressed how important it is to get out of your own end. You create more speed up the ice and you don’t spend as much energy, as much time. That allows for second and third chances at the other end, create some turnovers, create some opportunities to possess the puck.”

Jack Capuano is still looking for chemistry and cohesion from his forward lines, so he juggled them again for Tuesday night’s game after seeking some input from his key veterans. Andrew Ladd started with Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck, while Anthony Beauvillier moved up to the right side with Tavares and Josh Bailey.

“His ability to make things happen with his speed, his creativity with the puck, his tenacity — (Beauvillier) he really seems to be involved in everything,” Tavares said.

The Islanders need to start getting involved from the jump. Their woeful power play, 6 for 50 so far this season, hasn’t gotten anything going and hasn’t gotten many opportunities — the 50 power plays are 29th in the league, while the 69 power plays allowed is tied for seventh most.

“It’s more having the urgency we need, the desire to make a difference,” Tavares said of the power play. “It’s been better lately, maybe not in a big way, but slowly.”

New York Sports