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Islanders need to improve on special teams to make playoff run

If the Islanders lose in the first round to Carolina for the second year in a row, the culprit will likely be special teams.

There was a big hint of encouragement in that department for the Islanders on Monday night. The Devils went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill on the power play, the first three games between the teams this season.

Thanks to Kyle Palmieri’s first-period tip-in, the power play went 0-for-12.


Kyle Palmieri scored off Jake Allen in the Islanders' playoff win over the Devils, ending their power play streak at 0-for-12.
Kyle Palmieri scored off Jake Allen in the Islanders’ playoff win over the Devils, ending their power play streak at 0-for-12. Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

However, looking at the season as a whole highlights serious issues beyond 5-on-5 for the Islanders.

When you add up penalty kill and power play success rates, the Islanders have an overall special teams success rate of 45.945%, which ranks 30th in the NHL.

Heading into Tuesday, the Maple Leafs were the next-worst team to qualify for the Eastern Conference playoffs, excluding Washington, Detroit and Philadelphia, at 50.335 percent.

And the Hurricanes, who rank second on the power play and first on the penalty kill, also happen to lead the league with a success rate of 56.69 for both units.

The Islanders’ penalty kill, which has been their biggest problem all year, has been less noticeable lately, largely because they’ve taken fewer penalties.


Noah Dobson is questionable for the playoffs as he battles an upper-body injury.
Noah Dobson is questionable for the playoffs as he battles an upper-body injury. Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports

Even in their 7-0-1 run to the playoffs, they converted 11 of 14 games, which equates to a below-average conversion rate of 78.57.

And the power play, with Noah Dobson out with an upper-body injury, has played in just three of 33 games dating back to March 23.

After the team’s 4-1 win over New Jersey, coach Patrick Roy said, “We scored one point on the power play, and the penalty kick was really good.” “So maybe we can talk about something else.”

That’s not likely to happen until there is more sustained success with both units.


Defenseman Marshall Warren has signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Islanders from 2024 to 2025, the team announced. Warren, a native of Laurel Hollow, New York, played four seasons at Boston College and was a team captain until his fifth year at the University of Michigan.


The Islanders have lost every playoff series they played against Carolina, including a sweep in the second round in 2019 and losing in six games in the first round last season.


The Islanders did not practice Tuesday after clinching a playoff berth Monday night. Roy declined to say Monday whether he would rest some of his regulars for Wednesday’s game against Pittsburgh.

“I will sit down with my boss and discuss our plans,” he said.

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