Scott Mayfield was talking, but Mathew Barzal, sitting right next to him, drew attention from Mayfield’s words with his actions.
“Definitely ups and downs,” Mayfield said, as Barzal leaned back. Barzal crossed his arms, exasperated, then leaned back forward, his glance darting around as Mayfield kept talking. Later, as Mayfield was asked whether there was anything to build on after the Islanders’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Blue Jackets on Thursday, Barzal had his hands in his hair, eyes down.
“I think you can take some good things from it,” Mayfield said, as Barzal touched his hand to his face, then looked straight down. “The one point, like I said, is good. Like I said, we want two every night. So definitely think we could’ve pulled out the extra one in regulation.”
So, yes, the Islanders are frustrated.
Through the first four games of 13 straight on the road to open the season, the Islanders have earned just three points. The Islanders’ matchup Thursday’s against the Blue Jackets was supposed to be a chance to put together a win streak, but instead, they allowed two goals in 30 seconds at the end of the second period, failed to take advantage of an extended 3-on-2 chance in overtime when a Columbus player lost his stick, then gave up an overtime winner to Patrik Laine.
That all led to head coach Barry Trotz talking afterward about how he may need to break up the Islanders’ second line, about the 1-for-12 power play, about a start that doesn’t yet warrant hitting the panic button, but one the team must correct — soon.
“Last game, they got — I didn’t think they had a real strong game,” Trotz said of his second line: Anthony Beauvillier, Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey. “Their analytics were terrible.”
That line had a 47.06 Corsi for percentage at five-on-five, according to Natural Stat Trick.
“I don’t look at the analytics,” Brock Nelson said Friday. “But obviously we haven’t scored. So as a line, it’s frustrating, you want to go out there and contribute, chip in offensively.”
Trotz already shuffled the defensive pairings in Thursday’s game — Adam Pelech with Mayfield, Noah Dobson with Andy Greene, Ryan Pulock with Zdeno Chara. Nelson said a shakeup could be good for the offense, too.
“I love playing with Bails and Beau, and I think we’ve done good things and contributed to the team offensively, moving forward,” Nelson said. “We’re all great players. If Barry wants to make a change to try and get a spark, I’m sure we’ll use it and take that as motivation and go out there and try to play hard. Know that whoever he switches in or out, we have good players who can contribute offensively.”
Trotz said Friday the Islanders have been playing too loose.
“We keep doing little things to ourselves,” he said. “Really we’re cheating a little bit on people. A little bit on the wrong side, a little bit of guessing. And when you’re doing that, the decision making that comes off of a player doing things correctly, it forces everybody else to do it correctly. If someone’s doing it wrong, it forces everybody else to cover their back end and therefore you lose some of that.”
Saturday’s contest at the winless Coyotes provides a chance to rebound before the Islanders on Sunday visit the Golden Knights, another would-be contender that has struggled out of the gate.
Though the back to back could be taxing, Trotz said that the way the Islanders split their minutes relatively even between four lines has served them well in such situations before.
“To me it’s all mental,” Trotz said. “Can you handle it, or are you just gonna make an excuse? It’s time for us to not make any excuses and just handle it.”
Credit: Notigroup Newsroom.
[This article may have been written with information from various sources]