New York Islanders forward Anthony Beauvillier has found his magic touch again this postseason. He has picked up nine points in eight games, as he and his line have provided the offense the Isles needed through the first eight games of the playoffs.
While his five-on-five play has been spectacular, Beauvillier has kickstarted the Islanders’ power play at the most opportune time.
It was getting to a point during the regular season where a power-play opportunity, more often than not, turned into a momentum killer. The Islanders ended the regular season 20th in the NHL at 18.8% and mimicked that production in the first round against the Penguins.
However, against the offensively gifted Boston Bruins, the Islanders needed someone to step up on the man-advantage and start making plays. Just like he has done the whole postseason, Beauvillier has taken matters into his own hands.
While the Second Round series may still be early, the Islanders’ power play has drastically improved converting at a 50% success rate against Boston, with three goals on six opportunities. Beauvillier has collected a goal and an assist, having acted as a Swiss Army Knife to get the job done.
“Well, I just think he’s feeling it a little bit. When you study teams really hard in series you see tendencies and you make little adjustments,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said about the success of Beauvillier and the power play. “Those two things have happened. He’s feeling it a little bit and we’ve made some adjustments. … Right now Beau is feeling it and he’s got some good determination on the puck and putting it in play.
“You can’t score if you don’t put the puck in play and he’s doing that.”
The thinking from Beauvillier in this series has been what the Islanders have lacked with the extra man on the ice.
The Islanders were waiting for the right play to present itself, and more often than not, they ended up waiting forever. No one was making the smart play. No one was pushing the envelope.
There was a hesitation to shoot the puck. That allowed precious seconds to burn off the clock and those seconds turned into minutes, and in a blink of an eye, the power play was over.
That has changed early in this series in large part to Beauvillier making plays. Take his power-play assist from Game 2 for example.
Anthony Beauvillier with a BEAUTIFUL 🍎. #StanleyCup
— NHL (@NHL) June 1, 2021
On the Islanders’ third goal of the night, Beauvillier acted as though he was going to try to stuff the puck past Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask. Instead, his vision allowed Beauvillier to see that Jean-Gabriel Pageau had created enough space for a pass to make its way to the front of the net for the easy goal.
The position down low on the power play is for a player with not just a strong hockey I.Q., but for a player who can make decisions quickly. Because of Beauvillier’s abilities, he made a challenging play look relatively easy.
“Beau’s a big part of our offense and our game,” Brock Nelson said Thursday ahead of Game 3. “He’s darting in and out of space. He doesn’t need much to create. He’s able to beat guys in tight spaces and make little plays. You see how he kind of fell into a soft spot and made the play to Pager back door. When Beau’s confident and feeling his game he’s dangerous for us.”
The thing about the skillset that Beauvillier brings to the table is that he is not stuck in one spot on the ice during the power play. He can shift himself around and still be a viable candidate to make an impact.
His position in the slot is where he was most comfortable during the regular season.
Usually, he was revved up for a one-timer, but he went a different route in Game 1 of the current series.
— Boston Bruins on CLNS (@BruinsCLNS) May 30, 2021
He can do it all.
Again, his I.Q. was on display in the first game of the series when Beauvillier realized he was open just enough to receive a pass and quickly hinted to Noah Dobson to throw it his way.
A deflection from that high in the slot can give the netminder more time to react but more often than not, the goaltender won’t be expecting it from that high in the zone. With traffic in front, Rask had no chance at the save and Beauville gave New York the early Game 1 lead.
“They’re going to look at their penalty kill and say what are (the Islanders) doing different let’s make a switch here,” Trotz said. “Their move will probably come tonight. What they’re doing. It might not be noticeable to the naked eye, but they’ll trigger some reads for them. No different than our penalty kill will do against their power play.”
The Islanders’ power play will need to remain a strength as this series progresses, and that will happen if Beauvillier and his teammates continue to make plays.