The New York Islanders have a new weapon, and his name is Bo Horvat. On the surface, he is a player lighting up the NHL this season, ranking eighth with 31 goals along with 23 assists.
On a struggling Vancouver Canucks team, Horvat was a bright light, a determined player who did what he could to lead by example amidst the mess that Jeremy Rutherford and Patrik Allvin had created in a place he thought he would call home for the rest of his NHL career.
Let’s dive into how Bo Horvat’s game helps the New York Islanders.
1. Goal Production
The New York Islanders obviously needed to bring in an offensive force if they had any chance of sneaking into a playoff spot. In 15 games in January, the Islanders had averaged under two goals per game, scoring three goals twice, losing one after blowing a 3-0 lead.
Mathew Barzal had no goals in his last 10 games before lighting the lamp in the final game before the All-Star break for an overtime winner against the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Islanders entered the break as one of nine NHL teams to be averaging less than three goals per game.
Bo Horvat may not be the prototypical sniper the Islanders truly needed, but he has a magic touch this season, shooting at a 21.7 percent clip.
NYI Hockey Now went back and watched the entirety of his goals this season, and here’s the breakdown:
I went back and watched all of Bo Horvat's 31 goals from this season (Shoutout to Sports Filmz on Youtube).
Here's the breakdown:
-1 loose puck
— Stefen Rosner (@stefen_rosner) February 1, 2023
The Islanders need to throw pucks toward the net at a higher rate when Horvat is in the slot.
Getting Noah Dobson back, who sits third on the Islanders with 151 shots this season, will be critical for Horvat.
For everyone that complains that the Islanders do not shoot enough, they sit with the 10th-most shots in the NHL this season, with 1,252, and are eighth in shot attempts with 2,407. Now it’s essential to note quality over quantity, and we are also aware that the Islanders’ most significant issue isn’t shooting. It’s finishing, which Horvat provides.
Per NaturalStatrick.com, the Canucks averaged 7.44 shots per game when Horvat was on the ice. For comparison purposes, the Islanders averaged 7.9 shots per game when Mat Barzal was on the ice.
Ending the Power-Play Woes
The New York Islanders entered the break with the 31st-ranked power play in the NHL, at 15.5 percent. They currently had 24 straight chances on the man advantage without a goal and are just three for their last 64.
The definition of a mess.
“There’s no question in my mind that he should help our power play, and certainly, that’s been a thought process, and that’s what we liked the most about Bo’s game,” Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello said.”
Out of Horvat’s 31 goals this season, 11 of them have come on the power play, with seven assists.
Despite most of his power-play goals coming via tips and deflections, Horvat has shown off an ability to rifle home one-timers from the bumper position when given the littlest of space.
Here’s the power-play goal he scored against the Islanders on Jan. 3:
— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) January 4, 2023
Horvat has 143 shots on goal this season, 50 coming on the power play.
He has created 68 individual scoring chances when the Canucks were on the man advantage, including seven rebound opportunities.
Not to mention, Horvat has won 65.4 percent of his power-play face-offs.
We will get to face-offs in a minute.
Strengthening the Penalty Kill
Despite the New York Islanders’ struggles this season, the penalty kill has been an area of strength for most of the season.
They entered the break with the fourth-best penalty kill in the league, at 83 percent. On home ice, the Islanders lead the NHL with a 91.2 percent penalty kill.
Bo Horvat should only make the penalty kill stronger.
The Canucks have the worst penalty kill in the league, at 65.6 percent, allowing 49 goals on 142 chances against. Horvat has been on the ice for 19 of the 49 power-play goals against (28.5 percent), playing the third most minutes (85:34).
Horvat also has three shorthanded goals this season and four points shorthanded. The Islanders have three shorthanded goals this season.
Something to keep in mind is that four of the Islanders’ penalty leaders (minors) this season play on one of the penalty kill units: Scott Mayfield (17), Adam Pelech (14), Alexander Romanov (13), and Casey Cizikas (13).
Horvat sits with just six minor penalties.
Bo Horvat comes to the Islanders having won 56 percent of his face-offs, tied for the team lead with Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
Here’s how his face-off numbers break down:
Total: 56.0% (tied with Pageau for team lead)
— Stefen Rosner (@stefen_rosner) February 2, 2023
What can’t be overlooked is that Horvat is likely to play with Barzal, who has struggled mightily in the face-off dot this season, at just 35.9 percent.
When Barzal’s line is on the ice, head coach Lane Lambert wants him to have as much time with possession has possible, given his offensive talent.
But when Barzal continues to lose face-offs, at the rate he has, that means he and his linemates are chasing immediately rather than getting on the attack.
Bo Horvat’s face-off numbers, if they continue on the island, will give Barzal and their line more of an opportunity on a game-to-game basis to make a difference. You know, if he plays with Barzal.