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Islanders Beauvillier Shines Against Canadiens, Skill Still There

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New York Islanders Anthony Beauvilllier

Forward Anthony Beauvillier has struggled to be the consistent player that the New York Islanders thought he would become after drafting him 28th overall in 2015. He’s hit the 20-goal mark once over his seven seasons on Long Island, but his speed and general manager Lou Lamoriello’s belief in him has kept him on Long Island.

And a game like what we saw from Anthony Beauvillier against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night tells us that the 25-year-old isn’t lacking the skills to be a force for the Islanders.

For Saturday, Beauvillier found himself on a new line, with head coach Lane Lambert dropping him down to Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s wing alongside Hudson Fasching.

It was an opportunity for Beauvillier, who was on an eight-game goal drought, to get some more offensive looks, as Pageau and Fasching had been creating chances at a high rater over the last few games.

And sure enough, six minutes into the contest, Beauvillier tapped home a juicy rebound for his ninth goal of the season.

 

“You never really want to kick a monkey off your back,” Beauvillier said. “Never want to have one on your back, but it happens, and yeah, it definitely feels good to get on the scoresheet here.”

That goal served as the eventual game-winner.

Besides the goal, Beauvillier was all over the ice throughout the contest.

The Quebec native had four shots on goal, five scoring chances, two being considered high-danger, and four hits in 15:31 TOI. He made intelligent decisions, not turning the puck over once, nor missing the net–which has been his most significant issue.

He was locked in.

“He scored the game-winning goal. So that was…I mean…it was definitely a bonus,” Islanders head coach Lane Lambert said. “I thought he played well. I thought that he was moving his feet, generating chances. And I did see a good game from him.”

The “moving his feet” segment is something that Lambert does not see from Beauvillier on a nightly basis, and that’s his biggest asset. When he is moving his feet, he’s a dangerous forward, as speed can’t be taught. It also should never be absent, especially when the goals aren’t coming.

At the very least, speed puts significant pressure on the opposition, whether on the forecheck, moving down the wing or on the back check.

Lamoriello banked on his forward group, including Beauvillier, following a 2021-22 season where changes certainly could have been made.

Some players like Zach Parise, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Mathew Barzal, and others have bounced back.

Beauvillier, who finished last season with just 12 goals in 75 games, has struggled to make the most of his chances and play the responsible game Lambert and the Islanders need.

But then you get games like Saturday, where Beauvillier shines and shows that he has the tools in his arsenal to contribute to this team more than he has.

That’s not to say he’s going to pot 30 to 40 goals, but a 20-goal, 40-point player Beauvillier should be (Yoda voice).

And yes, Montreal does not have a strong hockey club, and there’s a reason why they find themselves second-to-last in the Metropolitan Division.

Maybe the strong showing was due to the adrenaline rush that comes with facing his hometown team. Performances like that haven’t come often for Beauvillier, but that doesn’t mean, with the right players, he can’t build on this performance and have a solid second half to his season.

He looked much more comfortable in the bottom-six role alongside Pageau.

“I thought it was good. Like we had some great plays, and we’re trying to find each other and feel each other off,” Beauvillier said. “Having Pageau down the middle, I feel like he’s so consistent, and you know what you’re getting out to him.”

“So he’s talking a lot to us, and I thought we had a good game.”

The main topic in the locker room was holding players accountable and challenging one another.

“We believe in this group. We believe in one another,” Islanders captain Anders Lee said. “And sticking with each other, having each other’s backs, and demanding the best from the guy sitting next to you and yourself… It’s an accountability thing. And that’s what gives you success.”

Right now, the Islanders’ offense has struggled with just 14 goals over their last seven games, which includes a six-goal performance against the Vancouver Canucks. The Islanders’ top scorer, Brock Nelson, is snakebitten with no goals over his previous 12 games, and the Islanders needed depth to come through a bit more to help counteract his struggles–which they did against Montreal.

Until Anthony Beauvillier plays like he played Saturday night consistently, there’s no reason to believe that he is suddenly going to be a force again like he was from 2017 to 2020.

But games like Saturday showcase his ability to be much more of a force than he has been over the last year and a half and that he still has it inside of him to play to a much higher level as we move forward.

Islanders & Their Offensive Woes, Here’s What Lambert Said

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