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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
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.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 53 31 16 6 143 118 68
3 NYR 53 30 18 5 150 135 65
4 TBL 52 29 19 4 138 123 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
7 PIT 52 27 18 7 138 132 61
8 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
9 NJD 54 26 21 7 120 122 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
13 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
K. Okposo 49 15 26 -7 41
J. Tavares 48 19 21 -4 40
F. Nielsen 51 15 18 0 33
B. Nelson 51 20 11 1 31
M. Grabovski 51 9 15 2 24
J. Bailey 50 9 15 5 24
N. Leddy 51 3 20 -8 23
A. Lee 51 7 15 1 22
R. Strome 40 5 14 -6 19
C. Clutterbuck 50 11 4 6 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 12 11 4 .917 2.28
T. Greiss 14 6 2 .929 2.26
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