Last night was one of those games you don’t shake off. You don’t shake it off as a writer, a fan, player or coach. Witness Islander’s coach Jack Capuano harping on Brian Boyle’s elbow in the press conference. It is wonderful selective memory to harp on that when the Islanders simply fell apart as Tampa ramped up pressure late in the game and in overtime. This is what blew game 3. Not an elbow.
First of all, there is the mind-numbing Islanders coaching fear of analytics now that we are in key moments in the playoffs. We have seen this peering out in their constant use of analytical nightmare Brian Strait during the season. However, as pressure has increased, the Isles coaching staff has made curious, if not head-scratching choices time and time again at the end of the season and now during the playoffs. Prime example is the 2nd benching of Ryan Strome.
The issue is not that Josh Bailey should not have played. He might be fans goat, and for good reason this season, but he is far more rounded and skilled that Steve Bernier, who did nothing on his ineffective line. Josh Bailey and Ryan Strome should have played, Bernier should have sat. Simple use of analytics says this clearly. Yet, once again coaching has clung onto backwards notions in key moments. The schism between good analytics, something the Islanders management DOES buy into, and coaching staff choices and discomfort MUST be addressed this offseason. The Pulock sitting for Strait at the end run in the season was also glaring.
Another issue is coaching choices in the heat of the moment. Witness the tortoise shell the Islanders went into in the final two minutes as Tampa’s forwards were buzzing all over. Against Florida, they were able to get away with this. Against the experienced and skilled Tampa? Not a chance.
The coaching staff COULD have called a timeout, regroup, give the team some rest. Instead, they had Kyle Okposo and John Tavares out on the ice, two players with not the most defensive acumen in their own zone… and Tampa tipped the scales to tie the game. Was it that they were less tired? Maybe. But still, a timeout could have solved that and make a better defensive forward choice as Tampa was all over the home team.
Now… overtime… where Brian Boyle definitely seemed to hit Hickey a bit late. But was it the terrible HEAD SHOT that Jack and fans seemed to cite? Let us see from another angle…
After seeing this angle and slowing it down I feel strongly that this was a good hit. pic.twitter.com/bRm8Ags8dy
— Martin Biron (@martybiron43) May 4, 2016
NO. Late? Yes. Head hunting? No.
Above all… how does harping on a 4th line scrub help for Friday? It doesn’t. Game 4 is everything.
Bottomline is in game 3, the NY Islanders blew it. Defensively they looked porous when they had the lead. Thomas Greiss has been not as efficient versus the very important high danger shots in this series. Last night, he was only at 70% against those key shots (15pts from his avg). Bishop was at a whopping 90%. If you don’t think these situations dictate the final score, be assured, it does. Bishop made key saves. Greiss did not. No coincidence here the Islanders lost the game.
This team and coach MUST regroup and sort out issues.
Game 4 will require the Islanders to get past this brutal loss and reset. Ryan Strome should be playing. Thomas Greiss needs to play better. John Tavares needs to play better. If not, this series is over.
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