Over the last three seasons, NY Islanders center Brock Nelson has taken his game to another level. With a career-best season in 2022-23, Nelson finished with 75 points (36 G, 39 A), on top of a 37-goal campaign the year before.
Known as the Islanders' best natural goal scorer, one knock on Nelson through his career has been how streaky he can be. While the Warroad, MN, native has been more consistent since entering his 30s, he still tends to go missing.
Not only has Nelson been streaky this season, but so have the Islanders as a whole - and there has been a correlation between Nelson’s success and the Islanders record.
On their second losing spell of the season, the Islanders are 5-8-2 over their last 15 games. During that time, Nelson has scored six goals and added four assists. Not awful statistically, but below the high standards for last year's All-Star representative. What’s more alarming is that at 5v5, Nelson has been on the ice for six goals for and 11 against.
Similarly, Nelson struggled along with the Isles during the team's 0-4-3 run early in the season. In that time frame, Nelson scored twice, both on the power play, and added one assist. Amazingly, he wasn’t on the ice for any goals at 5v5 but was for six against.
During the Isles' 9-1-3 hot streak from November into December, Nelson was playing at his best, scoring six times while adding nine assists - on the ice for ten goals for and just five against.
Nelson is not to blame nor give all the credit for the Isles' streaky play. He doesn't have the benefit of playing with Bo Horvat or Mat Barzal, who are recognized as the team's top forwards - playing mostly with Kyle Palmieri and Pierre Engvall, Nelson's linemates have been inconsistent and could serve better as third-line players. In fact, Nelson tends to be the driving force when the line is producing on a nightly basis.
The team seems to go as Nelson goes, and as he has failed to produce as of late, the Islanders continue to tumble down the standings in the Metropolitan Division.