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Islanders’ Kill Streak Continues Despite Loss December 28, 2015

Posted by tomflesher in Hockey.
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Despite losing 3-1 (one empty-net goal) on December 27, the New York Islanders continued a penalty kill streak that goes back to November 25, when they gave up a power play goal to Claude Giroux off a goaltender interference call against Josh Bailey. In the 14 games since, the Islanders have killed off 94 minutes of penalties and run to an 8-4-2 record (with three shootout wins and a shootout loss at Ottawa on December 5). By contrast, their opponents have been less disciplined: they’ve taken 114 penalty minutes and allowed the Islanders to score 8 power play goals. Over that span, the Islanders have outscored the opposition 35-31, allowing 2 shorthanded goals but scoring none.

That is, without question, a very strong 14-game stretch. Part of it is certainly luck – a team should theoretically lose half of its shootouts, but the Isles are 3-1 in shootouts and 1-1 in overtime since November 27. If you subtract the goals granted for shootout wins, they’re about .53 wins above expectation, which is a fairly large proportion for a small stretch. In addition, they’ve been outshot 426-393 over that stretch. In wins, oddly, they’ve still been outshot 257-218, and in losses they’ve outshot their opponents 175-169.

With numbers like that, it’s unsurprising they’re regressing a bit to the mean. However, they’re still 19-12-5 on the year with 43 points; that places them third in the Metropolitan, but would put them tied for second in the Atlantic or Pacific. The Central is tough, with Dallas, St. Louis, and Chicago’s high point totals, but the relatively anemic Eastern Conference is allowing the Islanders to shine. They’re likely to make the playoffs; even if the Devils or Penguins knock them out of third, the Atlantic Division’s weak performance will allow them to make a wild card play on points.

The penalty differential that the Islanders have cultivated is likely to play a large role, if they can continue it. In the 2014-2015 season, a power play translated to about 3.4 extra shots on goal for the team with the advantage, while being shorthanded tended to cost the team about 1.8 shots. Those numbers are likely to hold up this season as well. In addition, they’ve been ecumenical in their production: Josh Bailey, Kyle Okposo, Marek Zidlicky, Mikhail Grabovski, and Ryan Strome each have 7 points over the 14-game stretch. With Jaroslav Halak battling an upper body injury, Thomas Greiss has given the Islanders little cause for concern. In short, they seem set up to do well in the immediate term.

The Islanders are idle tonight and will see the Maple Leafs again tomorrow night.

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