2. Oliver Wahlstrom’s Scoring Streak Continues, + Third Line Productivity
We all love Oliver Wahlstrom right now, right? I mean, the Islanders rookie has five points (3G, 2A) in the last four games, has the highest Individual Expected Goals per 60 minutes of any active member of the team, and the highest Individual Fenwick For per 60 as well.
Islanders fans have talked a lot about Wahlstrom’s plus shooting ability. He’s a dangerous shot from seemingly any place on the ice, and as the aforementioned numbers state quite clearly, he’s not afraid to launch that shot.
Wahlstrom picked up another goal on Thursday, burying the go-ahead goal that put the Islanders up 3-2 with a little under three minutes remaining in regulation. He again showed little restraint in letting that shot fly, as he and lineman J.G. Pageau finished tied in iCF, or Individual Corsi For, for the night.
Though you could argue that Wahlstrom’s success this season has been a bit lucky, and that argument has its merits such as a 33% S% on this four-game run. But it’s been just as much about shooting skill and a high IQ in the offensive zone, traits that Wahlstrom has carried over from his amateur days.
Obviously, shooting 30% isn’t sustainable. Right now, pucks are going in for the kid at a higher rate than they will down the line, but positioning himself in the dangerous areas and continuing to use that release will make him a perennial scoring threat, even without the puck luck he’s seen of late.
But what about the line Wahlstrom currently plays on? I haven’t given that trio enough love in these three takeaways pieces, and that’s going to change because I absolutely love the way that line is going right now.
Barry Trotz shuffles lines a lot, but it isn’t often he finds the kind of production Wahlstrom, Pageau, and Anthony Beauvillier have given him and his team. That line was again one of the two best that the Islanders iced on Thursday, taking home nearly 60% of total shot attempts, and almost 78% of the xG share at 5v5.
Anthony Beauvillier, mired in a long rut for most of 2020-21, looks reinvigorated by his new linemates and deployment situation. He, Pageau, and Wahlstrom have formed a dynamic line for this team that is not only dangerous in the offensive zone, but responsible in the defensive too.
I really can’t say enough good things about what these three have brought to the table for the Islanders over the past few games. They’re engaged in the play defensively, make good decisions with the puck, forecheck well, and are getting looks from the dangerous areas offensively.
They’re the sort of boost this team has needed with Anders Lee out, and Trotz still trying to find a top line left wing that will work alongside Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle.