Jack Capuano knows the New York Islanders’ special teams are a significant weakness.
It’s how to repair those units that has become a vexing issue for he and his coaching staff.
“When your special teams is at the bottom of the league and your goaltending is not kicking where it was last year, it’s a recipe for a losing streak,” Capuano said after the Islanders’ 6-2 loss to Ottawa Sunday night at Barclays Center.
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The Islanders have lost five straight going into Tuesday night’s match in Boston against the Bruins, who are third in the Atlantic Division.
Against the Senators, the specialty units once again came to the forefront. For all the wrong reasons. The Islanders were 0 for 4 on the power play, and gave up a shorthanded goal.
The Islanders rank 26th in the league with a 78.1 percent penalty kill success rate, and their 12.8 percent success rate on the power play is last in the league.
“Just look at the teams that were high in the standings at the start and look where they are now. It’s all correlated,” Capuano said. “We have to fix (those units). We have options we can use but at the same time, we’re trying to put skill on the ice and have the lefty-righty shots that we need. They take a lot of pride in the power play, too. Last year we were top five in the league in penalty kill, top-15 in the league power play and top-10 goaltending. That’s changed this year. And we’re sitting where we’re sitting.”
The Islanders have the worst record in the Eastern Conference at 11-14-6. Their 28 points are third fewest in the league, ahead of only Colorado and Arizona.
“It needs to be a better effort through the end of the game,” Travis Hamonic said. “Right there for the taking again.”
To hear Capuano speak, the issues are effort and execution related. He pointed towards the Islanders first power play, which came 5:19 into the game after Cal Clutterbuck drew an interference penalty on Dion Phaneuf.
The Islanders were only able to generate a Johnny Boychuk on that power play. The Islanders finished with seven shots in eight minutes spanning four power plays.
“Our power play didn’t do anything to help our cause,” Capuano said. “We had a power play right off the bat that actually killed the momentum of our team.”
If the power play irritated Capuano, Mark Stone’s game-winning power play goal at 15:03 of the second period infuriated the Islanders coach.
Stone was able to position himself in front of JF Berube, and jammed a rebound of an Erik Karlsson shot under the goaltender. On the play, Hamonic, Nick Leddy and Alan Quine were within five feet of Stone.
“I sounds like a broken record with our effort. The third goal was a big goal for them. The power play goal that they got. We had three guys versus their two at the net,” Capuano said. “Lift their stick, have some battle level in [you], have some fight. That, to me, that was a big goal for them.”