The New York Islanders made one of the biggest splashes of the NHL Trade Deadline by acquiring Bo Horvat. Unfortunately, he could not solve the biggest problem with the Islanders. The lack of inconsistent goal-scoring.
General manager Lou Lamoriello built this team a certain way and from the beginning of the season you could see goal scoring was going to be a problem. It was big from the net out like all his championship teams have been built. Lamoriello thought this same group of players that went to back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals was going to make another run.
Except there were a couple of problems. One the team was old and slow. Two the Islanders just could not score goals consistently enough to win hockey games. Goaltender Ilya Sorokin can do only so much. And Sorokin was the reason why the Islanders got into the playoffs, but in the playoffs that lack of goal-scoring reared its ugly head again.
At the end of last season when the Islanders missed the playoffs, the finger was pointed at then-head coach Barry Trotz. Many felt the system was not conducive for offensive hockey. We know there was tension between Mathew Barzal and Trotz, but what are they saying after this season as Lane Lambert played the same exact system?
You could clearly see the Islanders were trying to keep up with the Hurricanes as Game 6 went on. But when Cal Clutterbuck is your only goal scorer there is a problem.
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Where was Horvat? He was MIA the whole series. The same goes for Barzal, Brock Nelson, and Anders Lee. The Islanders depth players like Kyle Palmieri, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and others provided some offence. But with the season on the line, the top players needed to step up and didn’t. Is it them or is it the system they play in?
As the Devils are showing you can still play good defence and be an offensive team. But the Devils are one of the youngest and fastest teams in the league. The Islanders are not. That has to be addressed in the offseason. Unfortunately, with $7 million in cap space, it will be hard to do much with many areas of need to address.
In addition, general manager Lou Lamoriello needs a new contract as he has yet to be extended. If he does he needs to address goal scoring for the Islanders. Lamoriello has had so many chances to add offence and did not.
But something has to give because the Metro division is only getting better. The Islanders need to get a scoring winger for their top centers. Look Horvat had seven goals in 30 games with the Islanders. He had 31 goals in 49 games on a bad Vancouver Canucks team. And his new contract kicks in this summer. But this team needs to get younger and faster. Yeah, their depth players did what they were supposed to do, but you can’t rely on Palmieri, Pageau, and Parise to drive the offence anymore.
But before the Islanders can address their lack of goal-scoring, it will be interesting to see if their general manager comes back.
But one thing is for sure the Islanders must have more consistent goal-scoring next season or else they might just miss the playoffs.
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