Isles look for ways to take advantage of Oliver Wahlstrom's big shot
Thirty-two seconds isn’t necessarily enough time to determine whether Oliver Wahlstrom’s latest positional switch on the second power-play unit will ultimately result in more production from the Islanders sharpshooter.
Wahlstrom was moved back to a spot along the left half-wall — his original spot — during Monday’s 1-0 shootout loss to the Avalanche at Ball Arena after a stint in the bumper position between the circles.
The Islanders drew only a first-period power play and generated two shots. Neither came from Wahlstrom, who was on the ice for the final 32 seconds of the man advantage and did send a long-range wrist shot wide of the net just after the lone power play expired.
The Islanders (18-13-2), who conclude their season-long, five-game road trip against the Rangers on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden as they cling to the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, have been trying to unleash Wahlstrom’s potentially lethal one-timer from the left circle to less-than-satisfactory results so far.
“Obviously that’s my favorite spot,” Wahlstrom said. “I’m feeling pretty dangerous over there. When pucks come over there I can take a quick peek and look where the goalie is and get my shot off. The middle is good, too, sometimes when there’s a quick pass down low or in the slot.
“That left side, you can be dangerous over there. Also, too, it helps out the other guys on the other side. When I let one go, then the defense stands on me.”
The Islanders need that to work in games more often.
The Islanders, who did not practice on Tuesday as they traveled back to New York, have gone five games without a power-play goal. It’s been six games since the second unit — which also consisted of defenseman Ryan Pulock, Josh Bailey, Anthony Beauvillier and Zach Parise on Monday — has scored. The Islanders are 0-for-14 on the man advantage over the last five games and rank 21st in the NHL at 20-for-98 (20.4%).
“I think we’re moving the puck pretty well," said Wahlstrom. "I think we just need to be a little more aggressive coming into the [offensive] zone and just being more dialed in. You’ve got to outwork the penalty kill a little more and establish the shot first. When you establish the shot, things open up when you retrieve pucks.”
Wahlstrom has just one goal in his last 11 games and no goals in his last five, though he did have two assists in Friday’s 5-4 loss to the Coyotes. Overall, he has seven goals and nine assists in 32 games but just one power-play goal in a 4-2 road win over the Senators on Nov. 14.
“He’s got a special shot,” Bailey said. “We want to get it to him when we get those opportunities. It doesn’t take many opportunities for him to find a way to get to the back of the net.
“He’s dangerous in any spot in the O zone. If you get to him he’s going to find a way to put some mustard on it and get it on net.”