Looking at the stat sheet to start the season and it appears to be business as usual for the New York Islanders.
While they’ve gotten through the first 10 games of a mammoth 13-game road trip, their defense appears as though it’s remained as resolute as ever, ranking second in the Eastern Conference with 25 goals allowed.
A lot of that credit, however, belongs to the play of Ilya Sorokin, who has already pitched three shutouts in dazzling fashion this season while ranking among the NHL’s best with a .939 save percentage and 1.98 goals-against average.
But when Sorokin — or most recently Semyon Varlamov, who made his 2021-22 season debut on Sunday after dealing with an undisclosed injury — is breached, the goals seem to flow in bunches.
In the seven games in which they’ve been scored upon, the Islanders have yielded three goals or more five times and five goals or more three times.
The most recent example came in Sunday night’s 5-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild when the Islanders’ defense gave up two goals in 2:01 in the third period, blowing a 2-1 lead in the process.
“[In our two previous games before the Wild] we were fine. Thought we got a little loose in Minnesota,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said on Tuesday. “When we do give them up, we give them up in bulk form. It’s not one and done, it’s two or three and we have to cut that out a little bit.”
It’s an early disturbing trend for an Islanders team that has yet to see its three defensive pairings settle in. After early struggles, Trotz was forced to split his top pairing of Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock to provide support to the struggling second unit of Scott Mayfield and Zdeno Chara.
“It doesn’t necessarily go to the group, it’s more of individual decision-making… that we have to correct a little bit,” Trotz said. “That’s part of it. I think we’re going to get in a rhythm here. The more rhythm, the better it will be.”