Islanders: Three Takeaways from an Ugly Loss in Washington
By Ryan Grosso
2. The Islanders second line struggled again
The Islanders second line needs to begin elevating its play soon if this team wants to compete for a playoff position. If Brock Nelson, Josh Bailey, and whoever is on their line don’t begin playing to their potential soon, it’s going to be an uphill climb in the standings all season.
This isn’t just a phenomenon that has begun to take form in the last couple games either. Brock Nelson has two goals in six games. He hasn’t recorded a 5v5 point yet. Josh Bailey has one assist. Anthony Beauvillier, who is on injured reserve with a lower body injury, has one power-play assist and will also still be searching for his first 5v5 point upon his return to the lineup.
This Islanders second line seems like it’ll always struggle for consistency a bit. Brock is a streaky goal-scorer who often plays his best hockey in the first ~10-15 games of the regular season. I love Josh Bailey, but he is also prone to going long stretches without meaningful contributions. Beau has struggled out of the gate in two of the last three seasons, and now he finds himself on IR.
This second line, particularly Nelson and Bailey, needed to find another gear in this game and help the Islanders stay in it. Instead, Nelson and Bailey lined up with Leo Komarov last night for 7:39 of 5v5 ice time, and they produced very little.
An early game Brock Nelson power cut to the Capitals crease and a Josh Bailey shot from directly in front of the Capitals net are the two high quality chances I saw this line generate last night. Natural Stat Trick corroborates that, only one high-danger chance for on the night.
They were one of only two Islanders even-strength lines with a CF% below 50. They also had the three lowest individual game score ratings of any Islanders skaters, according to HockeyStatCards.com.
This isn’t the only Islanders line struggling to find itself early in this truncated 2020-21 regular season, but of those, it’s the most-important.
Think for a second about what the Islanders need most. In my mind, their worst need is consistent scoring, and this is one of the two lines who was able to provide that in 2019-20, and throughout the deep playoff run in the Toronto and Edmonton bubbles.
Without this second line going, the Islanders become an even more offensively-challenged team than they already are. Right now, Brock, Bailey, Beau – they aren’t going, and that’s causing a lot of problems that need to get sorted out very quickly, or like I and others have already said, the Islanders are going to be chasing other teams in the standings all season long.