Power Surge

The Islanders simple approach to the power play has proved deadly so far this season

Wednesday, 10.23.2013 / 5:21 PM ET / News
By Travis Betts
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Power Surge
The Islanders simple approach to the power play has proved deadly so far this season
Five of Frans Nielsen's 11 points have come on the power play this season (Photo: Getty Images).

Having converted on the power play in each of their last four games, the Islanders rank third in the NHL with the extra man at 28.1-percent (9-for-32). While a handful of the unit’s goals have come on picturesque, tic-tac-toe plays, head coach Jack Capuano attributes his club’s power play success to simple zone entries and a willingness to let it rip from anywhere.

“Any time we get a chance to shoot the puck, we do and we converge,” head coach Jack Capuano said. “Our guys use their creativity and skill. We have a method to our madness and how we want to get in the zone, depending on the opposition’s penalty kill forecheck. I like the fact that we’re moving the puck. When we find that 2-on-1, we’re getting pucks to the net.”

Forward Frans Nielsen, who often plays the point on the Islanders first power play unit, knows that special teams go through streaks and slumps throughout an 82-game span. The veteran center says that the power play can stay sharp as long as the Islanders don’t try to get too creative.

“We’re doing a good job of making high-percentage plays right now,” Nielsen said. “We’re not forcing the puck, which you sometimes do when you struggle on the power play. We’ve just got to keep it simple and shoot the puck.”

Despite losing Lubomir Visnovsky, who typically runs the point on the top unit, to injury, the Islanders struck twice on four opportunities against Vancouver’s No. 1 ranked penalty kill Tuesday. And they did it in unique fashion: John Tavares, who usually does his damage from closer to the goal, switched places with Nielsen on the point, and the result was a Matt Moulson tally that put the Islanders up 2-0.

“If we see something on video, we show it to the guys and make an adjustment,” Capuano said. “We change it up a little bit as well for the neutral zone and breakouts as well. That goes the same for 5-on-5 or our penalty kill. If there’s anything we see during the game that needs to be readjusted, we try to make that adjustment in between periods.”

Moulson’s first power play goal Tuesday was off Nielsen’s rebound; the prototypical Capuano power play goal: throw the puck on net and outnumber the opposition down low.

“I think we’ve been getting pucks to the net lately, and getting guys to the net and in the slot and getting some dirty ones,” Moulson said. “That’s what it takes to get power play goals in this league. There’s great penalty killers in this league. The goalies are good. You have to get guys to the net.”

Capuano credits Nielsen for being a catalyst with the extra skater. The coach has frequently complimented Nielsen’s ability to make the correct zone entry, and four of the 29-year-old’s six assists this season have come on the man advantage.

“He’s a guy that obviously can carry the mail,” Capuano said. “He’s a skilled guy, and a lot of our breakouts and entries are surrounded by what he does. He’s been doing it now for two or three years.”

Over the home stand, the Islanders improved their home-ice power play to 36.0-percent, tops in the NHL. But Nielsen wants the Islanders, who went 1-1-2 despite clicking on 6-of-17 man advantages during the recent four-game home stand, to translate special teams success into wins.

“As long as it’s going well, we’ve got to take advantage of it,” Nielsen said. “We have to win more games when the power play is going like it is.”

The Islanders will look to score on the advantage in a fifth straight game Friday, Oct. 25, when they travel to Pittsburgh to face a Penguins team that has gone 13-for-13 on the penalty kill on CONSOL Energy Center ice this season.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 6 2 4 3 6
J. Bailey 6 2 3 2 5
N. Leddy 6 0 5 1 5
R. Strome 6 2 1 1 3
K. Okposo 6 2 1 1 3
C. Clutterbuck 6 2 1 2 3
B. Nelson 5 2 0 1 2
N. Kulemin 6 1 1 0 2
L. Visnovsky 4 0 2 5 2
J. Boychuk 6 0 2 1 2
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 3 3 1 .926 2.34
M. Neuvirth 0 0 0 1.000 0.00

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