Kieffer Bellows has a pretty simple goal every day that he shows up to a game or practice with the New York Islanders.
“My goal right now is to just play Islanders hockey and earn the trust of the coaching staff,” Bellows said following Wednesday’s practice on Long Island. “Just play any way I can help the team win. As games have gone on and through the course of the games that I’ve played, every single game I’ve gotten more and more comfortable out there.”
So far, that plan seems to be working for the Islanders 22-year old forward. Bellows, along with fellow youngster Oliver Wahlstrom, was not in the lineup on Sunday in Philadelphia, but he has appeared in seven of the Isles’ first nine games.
His ice time has gone up over that time, and yes he has steadily improved on the ice with and without the puck.
Bellows’ play has started to earn him that trust from head coach Barry Trotz, who has said so on more than one occasion. It has shown on the ice and through the way he has played as of late.
After putting up just two shots on net during his first four appearances this season, Bellows has eight in the last three games he has played in. Trotz has increased his ice time over his last three games, which included a season-high of 12:07 on Thursday in Washington.
“I have trust in Bellows game,” Trotz said on Tuesday about Bellows. “He’s getting chances. I think he’s been around the net. He’s that type of guy. Hopefully, he just breaks out. That will just give him some confidence.”
Bellows’ progress has also come with a fellow prospect on his line recently. Trotz put Bellows and Wahlstrom on the same line with Jean-Gabriel Pageau towards the end of the Islanders’ five-game road trip.
It was a tantalizing sight for the fans who had been clamoring for the two to play on the same line. It was a welcomed lineup decision by Bellows and one he’d be open to seeing again.
“I think that would be an amazing line,” Bellows said. “Obviously Pageau and Wahlstrom are two amazing players. Both very smart players with a great offensive side of the game, but also very defensively driven. Anytime I can play with those guys I think it’s going to be some and some flair in there.
“But also we’re going to be defensively reliable.”
That certainly seems to hold up when you look at the numbers from Saturday’s game, when the three played 6:10 together 5v5. As a line Bellows, Pageau and Wahlstrom had an 87.50 Corsi For percentage and Fenwick For the percentage of 83.33, according to Natural Stat Trick.
The three have a similar mindset as well of how they approach their game. And for Bellows, having another player on his line that has an affinity for scoring goals as much as he does is an added bonus.
However, their success, according to Bellows begins away from the puck.
“A lot of time the game is away from you and you have to figure out how to be open,” Bellows said. “Figure out how to be in the right position and I’m working on that. I know he is and in the end I think that’s going to help us create more offensive chances, which in the end will create hopefully more goals. More scoring chance, but even defensively we’re trying to work away from the puck and just know where to be.
“Always be in the right spot and I think if we do that right then we’ll earn the coach’s trust.”