Don’t Panic Part 2: It’s still not really time to worry about the goaltending.

The Islanders blew a 3-0 lead to Buffalo last night.  Let’s be clear about this – the Isles lost because of goaltending.  Yes, two of the three shots were scoring chances, but a good goalie has to make at least one of those saves and the Sabres actually had more of those chances in the first period – they just couldn’t get by Poulin (Moulson had 2 of those alone, naturally). And of course, the Girgenson shorty was awful.  The Isles outplayed the Sabres that period, but Enroth and Poulin made it look the reverse.

That said, it’s really still not time to worry about the goaltending.  The Isles, after a meh first period, outplayed the Sabres as you would expect the final two periods, resulting in significant outshooting despite multiple Sabres power plays.  If you play like that, you can get slightly inferior goaltending and still win a lot of games.

Now most opponents aren’t the Sabres, so it’ll be hard to do that vs everyone, but the Isles have managed to do so anyhow.  And to be honest, even a Poulin/Johnson tandem probably isn’t going to give you horrible horrible goaltending.

No, I’m not kidding with that statement.  Poulin looked bad yesterday, but he was stupidly playing the day after playing in the AHL, which means he was not only Kevin Poulin in the NHL, but Kevin Poulin with a .010 or more penalty to his SV% – a huge drop not indicative of his talent.  My Marcel projection system last offseason had Poulin projected as a .905 goalie – that’s a bad goalie, but allowing one more goal per 100 shots than an average goalie isn’t going to kill the Isles every game (it’ll hurt once every 3 or 4).  And Johnson is a career .913 goalie – applying Marcel principles and remembering his AHL #s, he’s probably also around the .905-.907 range.

These are bad numbers, but they aren’t epicly bad.  And if you allow 27.8 Shots against per game (5th best in the league!) it won’t burn you that often, and this O can easily make up for it.

And then of course odds are Halak isn’t out long term given he was skating yesterday.  So yeah, it’s really not time to worry about the goaltending, and again, STOP PANICKING.

Neutral Zone Analysis: 2014-2015 Season: Game 34 vs Montreal

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This game was a tale of 3 stretches, which the #s above don’t make clear. In the first period, the Islanders were close to dominant in the neutral zone – entries were 23-17 Isles, but the Habs only had one carry-in to the Isles 9. By the 10 minute mark of the second period however, not only were the Islanders now trailing, but the Habs had nearly evened the neutral zone #s.

And then the Habs decided to defensive shell. HARD. For the remaining 30 minutes, the Isles were as dominant in the neutral zone as they had been all year, rivaling the game vs the Flyers. In the final 20, entries were 37-20 Isles, with 18 of those Isles entries by carry-in (to the Habs 6). That is ridiculously dominant and basically reflected the Habs’ reliance on Carry Price.

Unfortunately, Carey Price succeeded. Oh well – odds are he won’t if the Habs do this in the next meeting of these teams.

Neutral Zone Analysis: 2014-15 Season: Game 33 vs Tampa Bay

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The Islanders dominated Tampa Bay in this game, particularly in the final two periods, but it wasn’t really through the Neutral Zone.  The Isles out-entered the Bolts by a good amount, but the Bolts held the Isles to carry-ins on only 37% of entries, which is really impressive vs this team.  Unfortunately for the Bolts, the Isles got .6 unblocked shot attempts per DUMP IN, which is twice the average amount.

In short, while the Bolts were preventing the Isles from carrying in with speed, they did an awful job winning board battles for the puck after dumps, leading to multiple Islander chances after uncontrolled entries.  Excellent offensive zone performance by the Islanders this game, which is what turned this game from a game where the Islanders outplayed the Bolts by a decent amount to utter domination.

Neutral Zone Analysis: 2014-2015 Season: Game 32 @ Detroit

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Detroit, like Chicago, has a bunch of guys who are deadly carrying the puck in.  So like Chicago, the Isles allowed a good # of carry ins – 47% of Detroit’s entries were with control.  Course the Isles did even better, with 51% of their entries into the offensive zone via carry-in or pass-in. And the Isles out-entered the Wings significantly as well, with most of that coming in the first period.

An example of why carry-ins matter.  The Isles’ game winning goal happened when Johnny Boychuk of all people, carried the puck in by himself. Now nearly all of Boychuk’s controlled entries are by pass-in – he isn’t really a great skating D.  But here, with the Isles forwards changing, he carried in, took a shot, recovered the puck, wrapped around the net for another shot, at which point the Kid line had hit the ice and forced a turnover for the Anders Lee goal.  That doesn’t happen on a dump and change, or even a dump and entry most of the time…Carry ins cause teams to get more chances at the net than dumps, and as it showed here, the fourth chance led to the goal, all started by Boychuk’s simple refusal to chip it in.

Neutral Zone Analysis: 2014-2015 Season: Game 31 vs N.J.

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Following off the Chicago game, the Isles again took the neutral zone vs the Devils.  The Devils are down this year, but still clog the neutral zone, so the Isles’ 47% controlled entry rate is terrific.

Again the Isles were led by Grabovski, with 6 carry-ins and 7 total entries.  Over the last 3 games, he’s had 18 controlled entries on 21 entries.  That is a ridiculous offensive neutral zone performance and puts Grabovski’s overall season numbers closer to his past years’ #s, where he was an elite neutral zone player.

Neutral Zone Analysis: 2014-2015 Season: Game 30 v Chicago

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Chicago is the best team in the NHL. They’re a dominant neutral zone team who tore the Isles to shreds last year.

And the Isles beat them handily in the neutral zone.

You can see some of the Hawks’ neutral zone skill in their carry-in % – 48% is the highest the Isles’ have allowed since the schedule loss game vs Tampa.  And the Isles still out-entered and out-carried the hawks.  Oh and they also outperformed the Hawks in the Offensive and Defensive zones too.

This was yet another excellent game for Mikhail Grabovski, with 5 more carry-ins on 7 total entries.  And on a less significant but nice note, Griffin Reinhart had his first NHL carry-in in this game.  Overall, a GREAT game, especially given Boychuk and Hamonic are still out.

Neutral Zone Analysis: 2014-2015 Season: Game 29 At St Louis

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This game was the reverse of the prior two, in that the Isles came on strong in the middle/late segments of the game, and thus weren’t outplayed in the neutral zone (they actually won the neutral zone)

They lost though.  But well, you’re going to lose some games you play fine, while you’re going to win some games you play like crap (second ottawa game is an example of this).

Do note Grabovski’s 7 carry-ins on 7 entries here – in this stretch, Grabovski would be on a carry-in tear, resulting in his #s going way way up.