Thoughts on Defense and ‘Overspeed’

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Aside from the game against the Buffalo Sabres, the New York Islanders’ defense has been solid. It’s almost mind-boggling how in spite of missing Andy Sutton, Chris Campoli and Radek Martinek the defense still remains the least of the team’s problems.

Nevertheless, it is still a facet of the team that needs to be addressed.

In order for Scott Gordon’s “Overspeed” system to work, the Islanders defenseman have to take care of business. That means making the first pass out of the zone, clearing the front of the net, and pinching in along the boards. The way the team has played this season, it’s obvious that the Islanders forward lines haven’t yet caught on to the system. In the games they’ve won, the puck pursuit has been there and they’ve had their legs, which has created scoring opportunities and a plethora of second chances. In the games they’ve lost, they’ve had a huge problem establishing a forecheck and setting up in the offensive end.

I know what you’re thinking now: “I’ve read this on other Islander blogs already.” Well, I think I have a different take on this that has nothing to do with the lack of depth on the forward lines or the amount of youth present.

Here it goes.

I think the main reason why the Isles have had problems maintaining the level of offensive consistency and passion is because the defense, just like the offense, hasn’t yet bought into the system fully either. The two wins the Islanders have this season were due in part to the fact that the defense, alongside the offensive, were physical, swarming the puck and skating.

This generates scoring opportunities, something this team always seems to be short on.

However, in the games the Islanders have lost, where have the D-men been on the offensive end?

Mark Streit, Jack Hillen, Bruno Gervais Thomas Pock and Freddy Meyer are all defensemen that have above average skating skills and should have no problem joining the rush and helping out pinching on the boards. Streit especially, who came here to help the team on the powerplay and be a force on offense, needs to be a bit more proactive. In Montreal, he had no problems joining the play and applying pressure to opposing defenses. In order for this team to stay above water this season, Streit needs to be a factor

In the games this team have been outscored though, that hasn’t happened from Streit or any other member of the defense. They’ve been too preoccupied keeping the opposition out of the zone to be a force.

So in order for “Overspeed” to really work, two things need to take place at the same time. One being that the Islanders forwards have to skate their tails off. Secondly, the defense has to take chances on offense and take shots.

As we’ve already seen so far this season, if that doesn’t happen, they don’t win.