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Streaky players starting to heat up for New York Islanders as playoffs loom

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New York Anthony Beauavillier (18) reacts to scoring a goal with New York Islanders Center Brock Nelson.

It’s no secret that streaks are a big part of who the New York Islanders are. From the lengthy points streaks they went on last season and this one to the streakiness of certain players during the course of the year.

Even the Islanders offense as a whole has gone through its ups and downs when it comes to its scoring touch. One primary reason for the lack of offense during the regular season has been the abundance of streaky players on this team, who have trended in the wrong direction.

Fortunately several of them have begun to heat up at the right time.

Anthony Beauvillier, Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey had been one of the most dynamic lines for the Islanders during their 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Both Beauvillier and Nelson lit the lamp nine times, while Bailey facilitated racking up 20 assists.

They were as hot as a line can be and put the Islanders on their backs for most of the run, but this season they hadn’t been able to recreate that same magic. A part of that has had to deal with the lineup tinkering that has taken place since Anders Lee was injured and head coach Barry Trotz has had to find a suitable replacement on the top line.

Now it appears though after Trotz reunited the trio they have responded quite well. Beauvillier has four goals and an assist over his last five games, Bailey has five points in that same span and Nelson has three points.

In Monday night’s loss to the Sabres, the line helped create the contest’s first goal. Beauvillier and Bailey picked up assists on the opening tally of the game, which came off the stick of Adam Pelech.

For these three players, the confidence had been lacking. Recently, they have been playing with more of a purpose and they are creating more offensive opportunities, and more importantly, are starting to capitalize on those chances.

“I just think they’re skating. They’re making plays,” New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said before Tuesday’s game. “I was surprised how much they had the puck they really didn’t score yesterday, but they had the puck a lot. I just think that when they’re skating there are three pretty intelligent players that blend well.”

As a line, they had a Corsi For percentage of 77.27 in Monday’s game, according to Natural Stat Trick. They also generated seven scoring chances on the night.

“Everybody thinks of (Nelson) as a playmaker, but he’s really a shooter,” Trotz said. “Bailey makes a lot of good plays and Beau is that guy that’s on the puck and creates a lot of those turnovers. Then he creates space for them because of his speed. When they’re together they’re probably no different than the Cizikas line just in a little softer way if you will.

“A little more skilled way. All three parts seem to work really well together and collectively they’re a good line.”

However, the streakiness goes both ways, and while Nelson’s line has gotten it going another line is still trying to figure it out. Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle have each struggled to find the back of the net since Lee went down.

Barzal put together an ugly 13-game goal-less streak that he snapped back on April 29th.  Eberle has one goal in his last 12 games, with his last goal coming on April 20th.

Eberle went 11 games without a goal last postseason before he scored twice in the Eastern Conference Finals. His second and final goal of the playoffs came in double overtime of Game 5 which allowed the Islanders to live another day.

Eberle may be the most important player for the New York Islanders moving forward and If he can find a way to get out of this slump, that will help out Barzal immensely.

Right now, with Leo Komarov on his left, Barzal is the only offensive player creating opportunities out there. Eberle desperately needs to pick up the slack and start finishing off chances. He has been bitten by the post and the cross-bar often late

“I just think that they’re too east-west,” Trotz said about Eberle and Barzal’s game. “They’re just not getting to those areas. They’re not using their assets as well as they can. Barzy is dynamic when he’s using his speed, and it’s not when he has the puck it’s when he doesn’t have the puck. He’s probably more dangerous because he can get to those areas.

Trotz added: “They haven’t been going as well as I like for sure. For the ice time that is given to them, they haven’t gotten a lot going.”

Barzal and Komarov were both scratched on Tuesday. Eberle played with Travis Zajac and Michael Dal Colle.

The offensive side of the puck has not been the Islanders’ strong suit over the last two seasons. Fortunately, the Islanders saw an increase in their offensive production, going from 2.78 goals per game during the regular season to 3.00 during their playoff run last year.

This season, with four games remaining, the Islanders have scored 2.71 goals per game and would benefit immensely from seeing their offense come alive again in postseason competition. 

Whoever the Islanders get paired up against in the playoffs will have the offensive advantage. If the players mentioned above, at least some of them, can go into the playoffs feeling confident, that will make a world of difference in how far they go.

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