Patrick Roy’s math was slightly off, but his point still stood.
After the Islanders gave up a power-play goal for the sixth straight game in a 5-2 loss to the Flames on Saturday, Roy said he thought his team was now below 70 percent on the penalty kill.
They are at 71.34 percent, a little bit better than the head coach thought, but calling that a silver lining would be stretching the truth to a breaking point.
Because what Roy said next was very much correct.
“We know that won’t do it for us to be a playoff team,” he said.
The Islanders are not just 32nd out of 32 teams at four-on-five this season. They are 1,178th out of 1,183 teams at four-on-five since the 1979-80 season. Since Roy’s rookie season in 1985-86, just two teams have been worse.
This is not just bad. It is unbelievably, shockingly, unacceptably, historically bad.
Only one team with a worse penalty kill than the Islanders — the 1979-80 Kings, owners of the worst penalty kill in league history — made the playoffs.
“We need to be around, at least, around 80 percent, plus [or] minus, but close to that,” Roy said this past week. “I thought [against Toronto] we tried something a little different, more aggressive, and I thought it went well. It was unfortunate [they scored on] a beautiful tip in front of the net, those things happen.”
In seven games since Roy has taken over, the penalty kill has coughed up eight goals on 20 attempts. It is one of few areas where the new head coach has not made an impact yet, and may end up being the most costly.
What makes this especially shocking is that the penalty kill has been, if anything, a moderate strength for the Islanders in recent years.
They ranked ninth, fourth, sixth, 15th and 17th league-wide over the last five seasons, only below 80 percent in 2017-18 and only below it by less than a tenth of a percentage.
Doug Houda, the same assistant coach who ran the penalty kill last year, is running it this year, though the newly hired Benoit Desrosiers will have a hand in it.
Some of the drop-off can be explained by injuries — Adam Pelech, Scott Mayfield and Ryan Pulock have all missed time — but that is far from the whole picture.
Roy is trying to put in some changes, which the Isles are still adjusting to.
“Before you go and flush, now you’re fronting,” Roy said Thursday. “And all the teams that are in the top of the league, the trend right now is they’re fronting and they press.”
Changes or not, getting to 80 percent — roughly league average — now feels like a lofty benchmark.
“I like the structure we have in this moment, the pressure and the press,” Roy said Saturday. “The last game [Tampa Bay scored] off the breakout on the second unit. Today was from rebounds. So sometimes, I just thought, I think we need to stick with this and keep working at this.
“I hope that we can build from one PK, two PK, three and then get some confidence. Right now, our confidence is not at its highest.”
The Islanders have been a much better team at even strength since Roy took over, but they are still four points out of a playoff spot.
Detroit and Toronto, the two teams they are closest to, have one and two games in hand, respectively.
That is far from out of it.
But the Islanders will need to put together a strong run over the season’s last 10 weeks to make the playoffs. Doing that is going to be next to impossible if they’re giving up a goal on the penalty kill almost every night.