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Thread: New York Islanders - an offensive juggernaut

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    Default New York Islanders - an offensive juggernaut

    Before Tuesday night's game, the New York Islanders were the highest scoring team in the NHL with an impressive 3.73 goals for per game average. Well, they lost that game to the Tampa Bay Lightning who are now the highest scoring team in the NHL with 3.7 average while the Islanders fell to second with 3.66 average. Nevertheless, the Islanders are scoring much more than what was expected from them, so I wanted to dig deeper into that. I believe that there are two major reasons for this, so I will go through each topic separately.

    New head coach Doug Weight

    Midway through the 2016-2017 season, on January 17th, previous head coach Jack Capuano was fired and Doug Weight was promoted to interim head coach. Weight's results were so impressive that the interim tag was removed from him in April. Let's look at how their top players reacted to the change by looking at their scoring numbers. Because we're looking at different amounts of games played, I used points-per-game numbers and multiplied them with 82 to get scoring pace numbers for each period of time.

    From this chart, we can clearly see that the coaching change had a positive effect on the scoring numbers of their top players. All four players highlighted here started seeing improved offensive numbers already last season after the coaching change, and all four have continued to build from that to reach new heights this season. Although, John Tavares was scoring at 92 point pace during the 2013-2014 season, so for him this is more about getting back to that level where he was a few years ago.

    I'm sure many of you are now wondering are these numbers sustainable and is this the new norm for these players? Well, we have now seen Doug Weight as the head coach for 67 games split between two seasons, and below are their scoring numbers for that entire period aka the Doug Weight era. 67 games is not a huge sample size but it's a nice chunk of games nevertheless.

    Added scoring depth

    New York Islanders fans can thank the Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli for the added scoring depth that they currently have. If you're not sure why, let me explain.

    On June 27th 2015, the New York Islanders acquired 16th and 33rd draft selections from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Griffin Reinhart. The Islanders selected Mathew Barzal with the 16th pick and used the 33rd pick to trade up to the 28th pick and select Anthony Beauvillier.

    On June 23rd 2017, the New York Islanders acquired Jordan Eberle from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Ryan Strome.

    The Islanders second line currently has Andrew Ladd, Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle, so that's how much the Edmonton Oilers have helped this current New York Islanders team. Eberle started the season on Tavares' wing but when things weren't going as well as expected, Eberle and Bailey switched places, and that's when things really started clicking for the Islanders. The Islanders played their first game with those new lines on October 28th, so I looked at the numbers from before and after that change for all the players who are important for fantasy hockey purposes (no, Andrew Ladd is not important).

    As you can see from the chart, the change has been very clear and positive. Of course part of this is also natural progression from the 20-year-old Barzal but it just seems like the Tavares line is clicking perfectly now while the Barzal line has been great as well. You can't do well in the NHL without two good scoring lines, and the Islanders have that right now. And they also have Nick Leddy on defense who has been on fire lately, and that's very important for the forwards as well.

    I'm no expert when it comes to advanced stats but I figured I'll check those numbers for the 2017-2018 season anyways, and here they are.

    (Advanced stats data taken from Frozen Pool.)

    It seems like these players have been a bit lucky so far this season but I wouldn't expect any drastic drop based on these numbers alone as long as they continue getting favorable zone starts and loads of powerplay time. The Islanders powerplay is currently eighth best in the NHL with 21.73% success rate, so that's probably sustainable as well.

    Final words

    The Islanders are a fun team to watch right now. They're scoring a lot of goals and they're also allowing a lot of goals - they're fifth worst in goals against per game right now. They're also currently occupying a playoff spot and just two points behind the Devils for the division lead, although they need to watch out for the Capitals, the Penguins and the Rangers who are all close behind. But as long as this style is working for them, they have no reason to change it. And as a hockey fan, I truly hope the Islanders have success with this style because high-scoring games are fun to watch.

    Let's just hope their top players can stay healthy because losing any of them could really hurt the entire team since the Islanders don't have a lot of replacement options for their top players. But for now, let's just enjoy the situation, and if you have any of these players on your fantasy hockey team, then that's even more enjoyable for you.

  2. #2
    Godin's Avatar
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    Default Re: New York Islanders - an offensive juggernaut

    They should have listened to us. This could have started long before January 17.

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    Default Re: New York Islanders - an offensive juggernaut

    Awesome article J-P! Bar graphs!!
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    Default Re: New York Islanders - an offensive juggernaut

    the beauviller--nelson--ho-sang line is starting to click / get more chances too & young D pelech,mayfield are coming along nicely .Weight has done a good job rotating the 8 D .

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    Default Re: New York Islanders - an offensive juggernaut

    Great read Jouko.

    It's nice to see the Islanders finally start to get their shit together. It has felt like an eternity honestly lol.
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    Default Re: New York Islanders - an offensive juggernaut

    Been keeping an eye on the Islanders ever since Doug Weight took over the reigns, their offensive numbers have been trending upwards ever since. Was targeting Lee and Leddy in my draft this year and managed to get them very late!
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    Default Re: New York Islanders - an offensive juggernaut

    Wow - nice analysis!
    I got you in my sights now for sure
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