2. Beau Knows – Beauvillier’s return, and the thoughts on the lineup
Tuesday also saw the return of Anthony Beauvillier to the Islanders lineup. Beau, who was suffering from a lower-body injury, had been out since the Islanders’ January 24 defeat at the hands of the New Jersey Devils.
With some changes having been made to the Islanders forward lines since his injury, the question entering Tuesday’s action was “where will Beau play?” Barry Trotz slid him right into Leo Komarov’s regular spot, the left side of the third line, which featured J.G. Pageau at center, and Oliver Wahlstrom opposite the returning Beau.
How were the results? Meh. Not good, certainly not good. But, not as poor as some other lines performed for the Islanders either. I’d like to see this one run out there a few more times before any conclusions are made, because this trio had some moments by my eye test, but the advanced metrics weren’t high on them at all.
Unsurprisingly, those same metrics weren’t very kind to any of the Islanders forward lines, and for good reason. I thought the Isles played pretty poorly in front of their goalie for most of Tuesday night. They didn’t generate much in the way of sustained offensive pressure, and when they were the ones dictating play, there weren’t many dangerous opportunities created.
Just a very hum-drum performance from this Islanders forward corps. Even worse, I thought the defense wasn’t particularly good either.
This has been a persistent problem over the past couple weeks. While Barry Trotz appears to have loosened some of the rigidness of the Islanders structured, defense-first approach to games in the interest of creating scoring, it has also perhaps made his team too lax in their own end.
The Islanders allowed a lot of chances in the high-danger areas on Tuesday. The Sabres may have only put 20 pucks on net, but Natural Stat Trick and Moneypuck’s expected goals models loved the locations of their shots, and for good reason. Buffalo got a lot of open looks from expensive real estate on Tuesday, and that isn’t very Trotz-esque.
I don’t expect the Islanders lineup to change too much between now and Thursday’s matchup in Pittsburgh. Maybe a change here, a change there. Nothing crazy. But, it’s clear they have to fix some of those troubles they faced Tuesday in Buffalo.