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by Staff Writer / New York Islanders

Islanders power play, revamped by Gerard Gallant, leads the NHL

Gerard Gallant
Three years later, it's still the "New NHL" and that means there are still far more penalties called this year than prior to the 2004-05 lockout. With more penalties, comes more power plays, and the 2007-08 Islanders have taken advantage.

After playing eight games on the season and sporting a 5-3-0 record, the Islanders lead the league in power play percentage, scoring at a clip of 27.8 percent (10-of-36) while on the man-advantage. The Islanders rank first on the road, scoring seven goals in 17 opportunities. And of the team's 23 goals, nearly half have been while up a man – or two.

Out of their ten power play goals, six have been scored during a traditional 5-on-4 power play, three while up two men, and one while on a 4-on-3 man-advantage. The Islanders have successfully capitalized their two-man advantages three of six times.

Head Coach Ted Nolan gives the credit to new assistant coach Gerard Gallant for the success of the power play. But Gallant says that his approach is pretty simple.

"We told the guys right from the start it's about getting pucks to the net and putting traffic in front," said Gallant. "You need to get screens in front of the goalies and crash the net. Our guys have been paying the price in front of the net and that's led to our success. Just look at the two power play goals against New Jersey. Comrie scored the first one, but we had three guys around the net. It was the same for the overtime goal. They're not trying to be cute."

Bill Guerin leads the team in power play goals with three, including the game-winner with 3.7 seconds left in overtime on Saturday night versus New Jersey. Guerin is currently tied for third in the NHL in power play goals. Despite leading the team in goals, Mike Comrie has played set-up man while on the power play, tying Chris Campoli with four assists for the team lead.

The Islanders' power play has a number of weapons up front, making it very versatile. With the number one forward unit of Guerin, Comrie and Ruslan Fedotenko, there is a good blend of size, strength, quick hands and scoring ability. With the left-shooting Comrie on the right side and the right-shooting Guerin on the left, there is potential for a bang-bang play from either side of the crease. Fedotenko has been a workhorse parking himself in front, leading to his two power play tallies.

Mike Comrie, Bill Guerin and Ruslan Fedotenko
"Guerin has been in this league a long time, so he knows when to move in and out from in front of the net," said Gallant. "Comrie is our set up guy, who is very skilled working the corners. But he also goes hard to the net to score on those jam plays. Fedotenko has been the guy in front screening the goalie and making it difficult for the defense."

The second unit, which has seen Miroslav Satan, Josef Vasicek, Trent Hunter and Mike Sillinger, has also been effective. Vasicek's goal in the second period against New Jersey was in essence a power play tally, with John Oduya not having re-joined the play yet. This unit makes the Islanders power play forwards a dangerous 1-2 punch.

"You can't forget about the second unit," said Gallant. "They've been just as strong working the puck down low and getting it to the net."

At the point, the Islanders have the potential to put out a number of weapons. Bryan Berard, Campoli and Marc-Andre Bergeron have all seen top-unit power play time and have each scored at least one power play goal. Berard leads the way with two, including his game-winner against the Rangers on October 10.

Whether it's Berard, Bergeron or Campoli at the point, you know there is going to be significant offensive potentials. Bergeron may have the hardest slapshot in the league, while Berard's wrister is lethal. Campoli has been sneaky this season, attacking the front of the net for a backdoor play.

Bruno Gervais and Andy Sutton have also seen shifts on the power play. Three of Gervais' assist have come on the man-advantage, while Sutton has one power play assist.

"Our defensemen have done a good job of moving their feet and getting involved," said Gallant. "They've been effective at getting pucks through and not having them blocked. Even if their shots don't go in, they're creating big rebounds for our forwards."

Boasting two strong forward units that are interchangeable with the point men, the Islanders power play has been a forced to be reckoned with in the early going.

Top Five Power-Play Rankings as of 10/22/07

1. New York Islanders 10-36 27.8
2. Montreal Canadiens 9-of-34     26.5
3. Carolina Hurricanes 11-of-43 25.6
4. Calgary Flames 9-of-38 23.7
5. Philadelphia Flyers  7-of-30     23.3
Tomorrow: A look at the Islanders' penalty killing unit, which is tied for 2nd in the NHL.

To purchase tickets for the Islanders' next game, Saturday, Oct. 27 vs. Carolina, click here.

Saturday, Oct. 27 vs Carolina: 4 tickets for just $99

Halloween is almost here, and the Islanders want to celebrate the ghostly holiday with you, your friends and family on Saturday, October 27 at 7 pm against the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Islanders have cooked up the perfect potion to bring the whole family for just $99. The Halloween Pack includes 4 tickets to the game, 4 hot dogs and 4 sodas. If you are among the first 10,000 fans to arrive at the Coliseum on Saturday - also Law Enforcement Appreciation Night - you will also receive a collectible blue Islanders hat courtesy of Fox Sports New York.

This frightening deal is valued at $225, but for Saturday's game it's priced at just $99. So bring your friends and family!

To purchase a Halloween Pack, please call 1.800.882.ISLES ext. 2.

Click here to watch video of Chris Campoli discussing the power play on Islanders TV.

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