Youngsters Need to Get Back on Track

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In the Islanders last game on Saturday, the youngsters on the team were missing something. They had several good scoring opportunities, but just couldn’t pull the trigger. Like I’ve said a plethora of times on this site already this season, if these kids can’t step up to the plate, the Isles are going to be in big time trouble.

Because if that, I figured I’d break down the play of some of the youngsters in this post and discuss what I think they need to do to be more effective.

Kyle Okposo- In order for KO to be at his best, he has to do two things: shoot and take the body. Similar to Trent Hunter in the fact that he has a great shot and can be a presence physically, but different due to his solid skating ability and above average speed, KO can be a dangerous commodity; he just has to be less picky with his scoring opportunities and skate more. He can’t shy away from contact either. The next time he’s skating towards a puck in the corner, you’ll see that he’ll take the puck, rather then the body. Once that agenda gets fixed and he starts shooting more, I think you’ll see a different player on the ice.

Nate Thompson- Another guy that needs to take body more. His play in his own end has been okay, but he has to be more of a physical presence. He hasn’t been shooting the puck at all either through his first cup of coffee with the Isles, so I don’t even know what else to say

Jeff Tambellini- He needs to stop avoiding contact and use his stick handling ability to find his way in the middle of the ice. Too many times this season has he skated by people along the boards and ended up coughing the puck. In the AHL, Tambellini wasn’t scared of getting hit if it meant an opportunity to score a goal. In the NHL, he seems extremely passive and rather than go through defenses or draw penalties through hard work, he’s trying to make the highlight reel east west pass in front of the net. I got news for you Tambs, it’s not going to happen. Start earning your bumps and bruises and you’ll be a better player for it.

Frans Nielsen- While his passing has been solid, his play on the powerplay has been a bit suspect, as a lack of confidence and an overbearing sense of unfamiliarity with the NHL game seem present. With his speed, Nielsen should be playing with fire, much like a guy like Jason Blake, who draws penalties and uses his speed to give himself room on the ice. Right now however, Nielsen seems too preoccupied with making the perfect pass than skating and giving himself the adequate room so he’s able to pass in the first place.