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Postgame Mailbag: Despite Win, Certain Players Struggling, Praise for Others



New York Islanders, Brock Nelson
New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson celebrating his second goal of the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets (Courtesy of New York Islanders Twitter)

The New York Islanders never led at any point in Saturday’s contest against the Columbus Blue Jackets until Zach Parise potted the overtime winner for the 4-3 victory. Brock Nelson notched two goals, while the Islanders’ third defensive pairing had themselves a night with two points each. Ilya Sorokin was Ilya Sorokin.

Rapid Recap: Parise Wins it in Overtime as Islanders Come Back, Win 4-3

Here’s your NYI Hockey Now Postgame Mailbag:

Time to send Wally to the AHL? Bring up Ishakov? He looks pretty limited out there (@JPDSalazar)

For Oliver Wahlstrom, and New York Islanders head coach Lane Lambert touched on this before the game against the New York Rangers, he needs to shoot more because he is a shooter. Since being placed back on Barzal’s wing towards the end of the second period on Tuesday, Wahlstrom has been firing pucks at will.

The problem is he might be too trigger-happy, as many of his shots are getting blocked, despite having the right idea.

There’s no question he is struggling, but a stint in Bridgeport would likely not help him. He needs to play and learn through his mistakes, which is not something many want to hear.

For guys like Iskhakov, I don’t think general manager Lou Lamoriello would want to call them up just yet. Despite Iskhakov’s strong start, he is in his first AHL season. No reason to rush development, especially if the Islanders continue to find ways to win. If the Islanders were not winning, then you rely on the youngsters and help get them NHL experience.

Not yet, though.

I’ll make it positive. I’m coming around on Parise. I know I’m late to the party, but he’s regularly contributing this year, and I love it (@bull4499)

Since Zach Parise arrived on Long Island, he has showcased a tremendous work ethic that is second to none in the NHL. Early last season, the chances were there, but he struggled to bury. This season, he is playing the exact same way and is getting results as he notched his fifth goal of the season on the overtime winner.

He did not reach five goals last season until Feb. 22, a two-goal performance against the Seattle Kraken in Seattle.

The “3-P” line of Zach Parise, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Kyle Palmieri has been dominant for the New York Islanders and were on the ice for their first goal against this season, as they have been one of the Islanders’ best lines.

You can’t depend on comebacks every game. Gotta have better starts. 10-6. Good start. (@jgivy11)

This is true, and the players all say it’s not a habit they like. But the flip side is that they could be getting off to slow starts, trailing in games, and not coming back. If that were the case, the Islanders would be an under-500 team, but they sit with 10 wins through their first 16 games.

So while the struggles to score first and play strong early in games continues, they are winning, which is the most important thing.

What’s missing from Barzal’s game (as great as he’s played) that’s denying him goals? Shots? Shot location, reference to playing periphery vs greasy areas? (@bishopvillered)

I think Mathew Barzal has been a little snake-bitten, gripping the stick too hard at certain times. Although he plays off that he isn’t frustrated with the lack of goals, you can see in games that the chances are there, but he isn’t scoring.

I think he’s doing a tremendous job at drawing defensemen to him, which allows more times and spaces for his teammates and is a significant reason why the assists have piled up. I think he has been peeling back a bit too much and needs to drive to the net more, get those greasy looks.

But I spoke with Barzal and had him take me through what he is seeing on the ice, and he knows when there is a shooting lane and when he should hold onto the puck. The goals will come, it’s just a matter of getting that first one, but he seems to be doing all the right things out there.

Where is Beau? His name hasn’t been said in quite some time. (@nyisles130)

Anthony Beauvillier has not done much this season, with just three goals and four assists in 15 games. He has been a healthy scratch already once this season and seems to be taken out of the rotation late in games by Lambert.

His biggest weapon is skating. And talking with him on Friday, he said he’s been using his feet more. But the struggles with the puck on his stick continue, as he seems to be making the same mistakes on a nightly basis, getting beat and knocked off the puck a bit too easy.

This season was a big one for him, as last season was a nightmare. Rumors were swirling this summer that he could potentially be dealt to help create cap space, but the Islanders held onto him. Given his speed, he should be a threat on a nightly basis like a Mat Barzal, even if the goals aren’t coming.

His line’s playing well, and he is likely making more plays than we are giving him credit, but his inconsistency with hitting the net has limited his point production so far this season.

Do you think Aho earned his spot? Or should Salo see some more games? (@MarshBellows_)

I think we all owe Sebastian Aho an apology. Not that he has been perfect night in and night out, but he has taken tremendous strides this season. By watching, you can see that he is turning the puck over significantly less than in previous years. I was talking with Newsday’s Andrew Gross about it last night, and I think he went from 0.7 turnovers per game to 0.3, a significant drop-off.

He is using his skating ability on a nightly basis and generating offense.

Robin Salo had his chance early in the season as he won the starting job alongside Scott Mayfield, but he did not make the most of his opportunity. In came Sebastian Aho, and now, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say Aho has locked that spot up.

That is unless Lamoriello makes a trade for another defenseman before the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline.