Bruins In-depth Analysis of the Islanders:
Regular-season defense and goaltending
Once again, the Isles were one of the best when it came to shutting down the opposition and not allowing them to score. They allowed just 128 goals (2.29 goals per game) this season — second best in the league.
Their overall success is due to their strong defensive play. Under Trotz, the Isles have adapted a team defense structure that calls for a lot of on-ice communication as well as knowing your zone, man, and where your teammates will be as well as picking up your teammates when they make a mistake.
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This style makes it hard for their opposition to create space, get to the middle of the ice, and get shots to the net. This season, the Isles allowed just 1,590 shots on goal (28.39 shots per game) — 88 less than the league average.
The Islanders are able to do this by having three solid defensive pairings, especially their first, shutdown pairing of Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech, as well as having a tandem of two reliable goalies — veteran Semyon Varlamov and NHL rookie Ilya Sorokin.
While the Isles have the necessary tools to shutdown their opposition, their backend lacks the ability to score frequently.
Nick Leddy is a great skater and very good at dishing out passes and quarterbacking the powerplay as he led the team with 29 overall assists and 10 powerplay assists, but he had just two goals on the season.
I would say the Islanders’ top goal-scoring threat from the blueline has to be Pulock. Yes he only had two goals this season, but his clapper that has been recorded at over 100 MPH is a serious threat, especially on the powerplay.
In net, the Isles own a two-headed monster with Varlamov and KHL phenom Sorokin.
Varlamov was the go-to guy in the regular season posting impressive numbers of a .929 save percentage (SV%), 2.04 goals-against average (GAA), seven shutouts, and .743 quality start percentage (QS%) in 36 games (35 starts).
Sorokin, although deemed the back up for the season, was also impressive for his first season in the NHL. He had some hiccups along the way but finished the season with a .918 SV%, 2.17 GAA, three shutouts, and .714 QS% in 22 games (21 starts).