New York Islanders: Current Third Line Is Nonexistent
By Matt O'Leary
The New York Islanders current third line is not giving you a darn thing offensively or defensively. It’s time for a necessary change.
With the New York Islanders second in the league in scoring, it’s tough to complain about their offense. As good as their top-two lines are, and as competent as the fourth line is the Islanders have a major gap on the third line.
Right now this line is giving you absolutely nothing. Last night it was Prince – Nelson – Bernier manning the third unit. That combination of players is just all kinds of bad.
We’ll start with Nelson, who has assumed the role of team punching bag with Josh Bailey excelling. Brock’s having a career low year, through 38 games he has just 12 points (9 goals, 3 assists).
That’s not nearly the pace expected from Brock Nelson, as an established 40-plus point player in this league he should have nearly double his point total as the Islanders near the halfway point in the season.
In addition to his underperforming, Brock Nelson is on one of the coldest of cold streaks I’ve ever seen him on. He hasn’t recorded a point in eight games. Eight!
That’s only the beginning. Shane Prince and Steve Bernier have combined for zero points this year. Granted, they’ve each only played four games a pop but it isn’t just the eye test they’re failing. The possession numbers are atrocious.
Again, it’s a small sample size of just four games each but Bernier’s CF% is 35.9 and Prince’s is 35.1. That’s the two lowest of the team. As for CF% rel Bernier’s a -13.1 and Prince is a -12.1. Essentially, this means the Islanders are 13 and 12 percent better with Bernier and Prince off the ice.
The Islanders need some depth scoring from this line and right now they’re literally getting zero scoring from it. Which begs the question; Can Josh Ho-Sang really be that bad defensively that you’re not willing to play him just based on his offensive upside alone?
If you want anything at all out of your third line, Ho-Sang is the only real option that has potential to produce. I would run Nelson – Beauvillier – Ho-Sang as the third line.
Last year, Ho-Sang and Beau had some chemistry together, maybe they can rekindle it. Brock seems like a lost cause, but if anyone is going to get offense out of him it’d be Josh Ho-Sang.
Beau can have more of a defensive role on the line while Ho-Sang is the playmaker setting up opportunities for Brock to use that shot of his. It’s not a perfect solution but this seems like the easiest answer.
Next: What's Up With Thomas Greiss?
The goalie play and defense is more of an issue, don’t get me wrong, but the play of the third line shouldn’t be this poor.