There is no doubt the New York Islanders are doing better than people expected. Every hockey guru had them as a bottom dweller for this NHL season. Having said that the Isles need more production from the kids.
Every fan of the New York Islanders would have signed off to an 8-5-2 record in their first 15 games. What’s amazing is the Isles are off to this good start despite their talented kids coming out of the gates very slowly.
Mathew Barzal is not off to the start he would like. His points (13 in 15 games) are fine, but there are a lot of things he needs to work on. Barzal only has one goal so far this season and most of his points have come via the power play. Barzal’s five on five play hasn’t been good either as he is currently a minus nine.
No question with John Tavares now gone teams are putting more top defensive players against Barzal’s line. In addition, most talented youngsters struggle at the beginning of their sophomore season. With Barzal it looks like he is putting way too much pressure on himself. That’s not unusually for a talented youngster.
The Other Youngsters
Anthony Beauvillier is in another tough stretch. He only has one point so far this season and is a minus eight. Beauvillier got off to a tough start last year as well.
Hopefully, it doesn’t take until January for the 2015 first-rounder to get his game going, which is what happened last year.
In terms of Ryan Pulock, his play hasn’t been bad. So far he has one goal and five points and is a minus two. Focusing on Barry Trotz defensive system has probably taken away offensive production and prowess from Pulock at the early start. With each and every game under his belt, Pulock should get accustomed to the new system and the offensive numbers will come.
In the long run, Pulock will be a better player for it. Remember in last year’s lost season Pulock was the team’s best player post-All-Star break. Expect his level of play to take off soon.
From an offensive standpoint, the other forward lines have been good. The line of Josh Bailey (5 Goals, 17 Points), Anders Lee (5 Goals, 13 Points) and Brock Nelson (7 Goals, 10 Points) are producing on most nights. Clearly, they are the team’s number one line at least for now.
The bottom six have been good in terms of providing secondary scoring which is all one ask’s for from their complementary players. Casey Cizikas and Valtteri Filppula each have five goals, and Matt Martin, Andrew Ladd, and Leo Komarov have chipped in as well.
Now the Isles need to get the kid line, which includes veteran Jordan Eberle (4 Goals, 7 Points, -8) going.
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A lot went wrong with the Isles last season and very few things went right. Ironically the only major pluses from last season were the play of the Barzal line and the power play.
This year it’s the opposite. Everything is going pretty good with the exceptions being the 2018 Calder Trophy’s line and the Isles play with the extra man (ranked 19th going into Friday’s action).
The Isles don’t need Barzal, Pulock, and Beauvillier to carry the team. They just need solid contributions game in – game out. From there this talented young trio can start to think about taking the next big step.