Islanders: Trotz says Beauvillier “could play” vs Buffalo Sabres
By Ryan Grosso
The New York Islanders have been without top-six winger Anthony Beauvillier since January 24, when a collision with Devils forward Nathan Bastian sent Beau hobbling to the Islanders bench. But, the 23-year-old’s absence may soon be over, according to head coach Barry Trotz.
Trotz told reporters “we’re all healthy” after a question from Newsday’s Andrew Gross about the Islanders Monday night lineup in Buffalo.
“Does that include Beau, when you say everyone’s healthy?” was Gross’s natural follow-up, and Trotz responded in the affirmative. Sort of.
“Yeah, he could play. He’s able – or close to able to play. How’s that? Sorta vague, but – he’s right there. He’s right on the line.” answered the Islanders coach, with a smile almost distinguishable from beneath his mask.
Do Islanders dress Beauvillier on Monday? If so, where?
So, Trotz says Beauvillier is available, or close to available. We know Beau resumed skating and practicing with his Islanders teammates late last week between the Penguins and Bruins games, but whether his anticipated return to the lineup will come on Monday seems undecided as of yet.
Trotz jokingly alluded to his own vague-ness in discussing Beauvillier’s status with the media, but his answer to Gross’s question was actually more transparent than we usually get from the Islanders coach.
From what was said this morning, it sounds like Beauvillier could be a game-time decision for Monday’s 7 p.m. tilt.
Should he play, the question of where he plugs into the lineup arises. Eyes On Isles’ Scott Mitchell opined on this topic last week, and I tend to agree with his assessment that the best place to play Beau in his return would be on the left side of J.G. Pageau and Oliver Wahlstrom’s line.
I really like that line in theory, but let’s be honest, Barry Trotz has Leo Komarov’s name written into the lineup card with a permanent marker. Plus, it would be the height of irony if the coach finally shows Leo the bench after his best performance of the season, which is what Saturday’s game vs. the Boston Bruins was.
It wasn’t only Leo who played a strong game on Saturday night either, it was his entire line. Pageau and Wahlstrom also had very strong outings, and the third line was probably the Islanders best or second-best overall. So, even though metrics say that Pageau and Wahlstrom have been better without Leo than with him, I don’t see no. 47 coming out of the lineup on Monday night.
Wherever Beauvillier ends up playing, it should be a boost to have him back in the lineup given the skills he possesses. The Islanders have been playing better since their overtime losses to the Philadelphia Flyers late in January, but they’re clearly still lacking finishing ability.
Beau won’t totally solve that issue, obviously, but he possesses one of the team’s better shots and that’s not nothing when it comes to converting chances to goals.
Hopefully, Beauvillier returns Monday night, and hopefully, he’s able to find his A-game quickly after a sputtering start to 2020-21. If he does so, the Islanders should find ways to continue building upon recent success.