The New York Islanders turned in probably their best effort of the 2020-21 season in Saturday’s 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins.
The New York Islanders extended their point streak to six games Saturday night with a 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins. The win was probably the most complete of the Islanders season to this point, and they performed very well against a Bruins team on a 10-game point streak.
Here are three takeaways from a strong performance at the Coliseum.
1. The New York Islanders second line was their best
The New York Islanders established second-line featuring Anthony Beauvillier, Brock Nelson, and Josh Bailey entered the 2020-21 season floundering.
Nelson and Bailey have yet to reach their peak form, and Beau has been injured. But Barry Trotz has shuffled his forward groups, and it appears he’s found a gem in the line of Michael Dal Colle, Brock Nelson, and Jordan Eberle.
This new-look second line had played well coming into Saturday’s action, but their performance against the Bruins is probably the best they’ve had to this point.
Michael Dal Colle, who has been a late bloomer as a prospect, has played the best hockey of his NHL career in this recent stretch, and he was a force again on the forecheck and backcheck Saturday night.
Brock Nelson has struggled, and there is reason to be annoyed by that, but the Islanders long-established 2C looked to be starting to find his footing. According to Moneypuck, he recorded the Islanders second-best individual expected goals mark, at .58 ixG, and .44 ixG according to Natural Stat Trick. He is a talented player, in spite of the poor recent performances, and there should be little reason to believe he won’t find another gear yet going forward.
Jordan Eberle has found a way to get out of the gates quickly in 2020-21, and he again stood out amongst a group of very strong forward performances from the Islanders.
Perhaps the most impressive part of this unit’s night was the quality of their competition. They lined up most-often against the Bruins top forward line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak, and outside of a few slip-ups, they held that line in check when head-to-head.
Despite two actual goals for on the night, the Bergeron line held only 26.86% of the expected goals share in their 11:25 of 5v5 ice time, an indication that they were often kept out of the dangerous parts of the Islanders zone.
With the notable exceptions of their two EV goals, one of which came against a mish-moshed and tired Matt Martin – Mat Barzal – Cal Clutterbuck line, the Bergeron group did not threaten often.
This is a huge find for Barry Trotz if this Islanders trio can continue on the trajectory it’s currently on. The Islanders can always use more depth scoring to complement their first line, and this second line could do that going forward.