If there’s one thing the New York Islanders can do in order to increase their odds of winning tonight it’s to stay out of the penalty box. Just do that and maybe things can go their way.
It’s so important it needs to be said twice. The key to tonight’s game for the New York Islanders is to stay out of the penalty box. The Tampa Bay Lightning power play is not your friend.
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In the two times, these teams have played each other the Lightning have had 13 power play opportunities. Converting on four occasions for a lofty 30.8% power play efficiency. Which puts the Isles penalty kill efficiency over those two games at 69.2%.
If the Isles can somehow manage to stay out of the box they’ll dramatically increase their chances of, maybe not winning the game, but at least staying competitive.
I worry that however simple this might be of a request, the Isles are going to be incapable of making it a reality. Not because of their recent track record against the Lightning, but because the Islanders are making trips to the box a habit.
The Islanders have been shorthanded five times or more, five times against teams not from Tampa. And the season is only 14 games old so far. Add those Tampa games into the mix and a pattern emerges. One where the Islanders let the other team take over proceedings.
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The Islanders have a penalty problem. It’s not everyone else. They are their own problem. Is it out of frustration, poor system, bad luck, or bad calls? I don’t think that matters. At the end of the day, the Islanders are in the box way more than they should be. At least if they want to win games that is.
That last part was my attempt at tongue-and-cheek. Of course, the Islanders want to win games. To do so tonight they need to play a more disciplined game. The Isles were good 5-on-5 last time. So stay out of the box and they might just be able to capitalize on that even-strenth advantage.