NY Islanders Bo Horvat failing to make a meaningful impact in the playoffs

Mar 11, 2023; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Islanders center Bo Horvat (14) waiting for the face
Mar 11, 2023; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Islanders center Bo Horvat (14) waiting for the face / Thomas Salus-USA TODAY Sports

The playoffs were set up as a clean slate for Bo Horvat.

The NY Islanders had made the playoffs despite him not delivering what he was expected to bring - scoring. It was widely acknowledged that he contributed in other ways - he won face-offs, played two-way hockey, and contributed on the penalty kill. With Mathew Barzal out of the lineup since Feb. 18, he provided certainty at center in the Isles lineup, and it's hard to think they would've made the playoffs without the Horvat trade.

The Islanders winning and his signing an eight-year extension allowed the fanbase to be patient with Horvat, but that patience has worn out. In 49 games with the Vancouver Canucks, the center scored 31 goals, was named an All-Star, and was one of the top goal-scorers in the NHL. A regression was likely, if not probable, but his lackluster Islanders tenure has continued into the postseason, where he has been a non-factor instead of an x-factor.

Unlike points in the regular season, Horvat hasn't been able to generate quality chances; and has been a complete non-factor as his line with Barzal and Anders Lee failed to recapture chemistry, especially when matched up with the Jordan Staal line for Carolina.

By the third period of Game 4, head coach Lane Lambert had separated the pair that were expected to provide the Islanders a clear top scoring line.

"The effort is there; that's never in question," said Lane Lambert after the game when asked about Horvat. "Put it this way; it's not just him; it's the unit. Line have to work together and have to be tight. Against this hockey team, you need tight support because they're on you."

After going nearly four games without a point, Horvat scored a short-handed goal with 2:03 to play in the Islanders' 5-2 loss. For a player that was brought in to score big goals, there wasn't a goal he could've scored that felt smaller.

"I just love playoff hockey. That's why you play the game," Horvat said before the start of the series. "That kind of stuff brings out the best in me and different players around the league."

It just hasn't worked out that way.

"I think I can be a lot better, to be honest with you," said Horvat when asked about the state of his play. "I think I'm doing a lot of good things away from the puck ... but at the end of the day I gotta find ways to score big goals and get on the scoresheet. Not in a 5-1 game, 5-2 games, I gotta find ways to make it meaningful."

The eight-year contract the 28-year-old signed before his first Islanders game now has fans more concerned than excited for what's to come. Horvat, of course, has plenty of time to turn around that narrative and prove that he's every bit the player GM Lou Lamoriello made the long-term commitment to, but he'll likely start next season with an uphill battle to regain the confidence of the fanbase that he was the right player to trade for at the right time.