When Mathew Barzal went down with an injury, New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz had a problem. What to do with his lineup down the middle and then who lines up with who?
Barry Trotz moved some pieces around and cobbled together a top line of Anders Lee on the left, Brock Nelson down the middle, and left-handed Anthony Beauvillier on the right. On paper the line was an interesting one, so how would two trigger happy guys like Lee and Nelson do when on the same line?
The answer; very well.
New York Islanders new top line working wonders
Since February 27, the trio have shared the ice for 142 minutes of 5on5 time. They've scored a combined 24 points at 5on5. Absolutely crucial levels of production for the Islanders. Here's a breakdown of who's doing what:
Anders Lee: 5G, 4A, 9Pts
Anthony Beauvillier: 2G, 6A, 8Pts
Brock Nelson: 3G, 4A, 7Pts
Add scoring from outside 5on5 situations and things jump dramatically from 24 points combined to 43. That's nearly double the production when adding that special team production:
Anders Lee: 10G, 6A, 16pts
Brock Nelson: 10G, 6A, 16Pts
Anthony Beauvillier: 2G, 9A, 11Pts
The three are playing so well of late they've helped turned things around for the Islanders. Since Barry Trotz made that (necessary) change the Isles have gone 9-4-1 for 19 points. That's tied with Boston for the most points, in the league, since Feb 27 and fifth in points percentage with a 0.679 Pts%.
I know playoffs are surely out of the question, but it's important to see that the Islanders top players are playing like they're top players. Because these guys are going to be here next year. They're going to be asked to lead the team offensively in 2022-23.
The fact that we're seeing that line be this dominant is great news going into next season. That's one line figured out. Now Barry has the ability to build up that Barzal-Wahlstrom connection through the remainder of the regular season.
That connection has started to pay off as well. They combined for a 5on5 goal off the rush against the Red Wings and have consistently created dangerous opportunities while out there. It's going to take some time, but thanks to that new top line the Islanders have time.