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Is Brock Nelson Getting Back Into His Early Season Groove?

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New York Islanders

In Tuesday night’s 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers, forward Brock Nelson picked up two key assists, his second a key play on Zach Parise’s eventual game-winning goal in the third period.

With the two-point night, Brock Nelson has six points over his last five games, and it seems that he had started to regain the form that he showcased earlier in the season before certain obstacles got in his way.

When the 2021-22 NHL season began, Nelson was ready to go. In the first 10 games of the season, Nelson notched seven goals, four coming in one game against the Canadiens in Montreal.

After 14 games, Nelson had 11 goals to lead the New York Islanders.

But an injury against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 21 forced him to miss the next seven games. And after finally making his way back into the lineup, his stay was short-lived.

After four games back, the NHL postponed games, and during the newfound break in the Islanders schedule, Nelson tested positive for COVID-19. His stay in protocol forced him to miss two games, one against the Buffalo Sabres (Dec. 30) and another against the Edmonton Oilers (Jan. 1).

Despite being activated out of protocol on Jan. 3, the Islanders scheduled road trip out west was canceled, which meant a 12-day hiatus before a contest with the New Jersey Devils on Jan. 13.

When that Thursday came, Brock Nelson was ready.

It had been 25 days since Nelson played a game, with only four games played in 34 days, and because of that, he struggled to catch up with the speed of the NHL game.

Nelson looked a little slow in his first game back, the Islanders first game in 12 days. He took two shots and two blatant penalties, with the second of the two allowing the New Jersey Devils to tie the score halfway through the third.

In his second game back, a 2-0 loss to the Washington Capitals, Nelson recorded two shots, a giveaway, and was on the ice for the Alex Ovechkin empty-net goal.

It was not until Nelson’s third game back before he found the positive side of the scoresheet.

But against the Philadelphia Flyers two days later, Nelson found his way back on the scoresheet as he patiently waited for a screen before he sniped the puck past Flyers netminder Martin Jones to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead in the second period.

Later in the contest, he added another assist, a beautiful move that created the chance for the two-goal lead.

After a game without a point, Nelson padded that stat sheet against Arizona Coyotes on Jan. 21 as he scored two goals in the 4-0 win, for his 12th and 13th of the season.

Nelson only recorded one shot on goal in the loss to Toronto as the home lineup seemed out of sync offensively.

But Tuesday night, Nelson bounced back with that essential assist mentioned earlier.

Since returning, all of Nelson’s goals have come at even strength, a rather important stat given the Islanders sit dead last in the NHL with 5 on 5 goals (57). Two of his three assists have come at even strength as well. Nelson has won 44% of his draws since his return.

On the season, Nelson has 13 goals (team lead) and six assists for 19 points in 30 games.

Although streakiness has been an issue for Nelson over his career, if he has started to heat up, Nelson has the potential to carry an offense. And with the hectic schedule before the All-Star break and then after, with so many games in so many nights, being a streaky player has its perks.

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