Brock Nelson can be that game-changer in the playoffs for the New York Islanders.
In the postseason last year, guys like Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle lead the team in production with nine and seven points respectively. Brock Nelson had four points through the team’s eight games. All goals.
That’s not terrible, but it clearly wasn’t good enough. Specifically in the second round against the Carolina Hurricanes. Brock Nelson had one goal in that series. The Islanders desperately needed offense and weren’t getting it.
But with nearly a five-month break – from March 10 to August 1 – between the last time the Islanders played in 2019-20 and the start of the qualifying round, Brock Nelson could be that difference-maker for the Islanders.
We’re all familiar with Brocktober. In the opening month of the regular season, Brock Nelson is typically at his most productive.
Over his career, Nelson has 54 points in 71 games in the month of October, good for a 0.76 point per game pace. He doesn’t come close to that level of production in any other month of the NHL season.
Brock Nelson is at his very best when play resumes after the offseason. And while this ‘offseason’ wasn’t the typical type of offseason for players, they couldn’t do what they would normally do in the offseason such as strength training, it still allowed them to rest and reset.
We’ve seen over the years that a rested Brock Nelson is a good Brock Nelson.
With the addition of Jean-Gabriel Pageau and a healthy Casey Cizikas, Brock Nelson will certainly see his penalty kill time decrease. Before Pageau’s arrival, Brock was second for PK minutes (for forwards) behind Casey Cizikas. Nelson was also second in PK time – again, for forwards – behind Pageau after the trade (Cizikas was out with injury).
A decrease in ice-time might sound like a negative, but it allows the Islanders to spread the responsibility around the lineup and keep guys fresher through this best-of-five series and beyond.
A fresh, relaxed, and reset Brock Nelson will almost certainly be a good Brock Nelson. Again, we’ve seen what Nelson can do when he comes back from a break. It’s reasonable to think he could do it here in the qualifying round and hopefully beyond.