With the New York Islanders playoff chances hanging in the balance against the New York Rangers on Wednesday night, Islanders captain John Tavares spent far too much time in the penalty box and was off his game. By the end of the second period, things got worse. The game looked over and with it, a huge opportunity to stay in the crowded Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Ho-Sang and Beauvillier Have Arrived
And then it happened. After a solid first two periods, Islanders rookies Joshua Ho-Sang and Anthony Beauvillier marveled, bringing energy and drawing possession. On the ice for two of the three Isles goals, the two rookies looked like seasoned veterans ready to guide the team into the postseason. The Islanders vanquished the Rangers in Madison Square Garden. Two kids who before the game, were probably just happy to be there, led the charge.
Make no mistake — if the Islanders do get into the playoffs, Ho-Sang and Beauvillier have to continue their recent hot play. While Tavares and his linemates draw teams top defensive players, Ho and Beau have a grand opportunity to produce. Former first round picks with plenty of potential and upside, the two can exploit defenses with a lack of depth and provide the Islanders with a ton of secondary scoring. That’s exactly what they’ll need to ensure a playoff berth.
No Trades Needed
This late-season revelation comes at the perfect time for Ho-Sang, Beauvillier and the Isles. Although Beauvillier’s play was never been poor this season, he struggled to find his way. After he found his game on the team’s recent road trip, being paired with Ho-Sang has proved genius. That has everything to do with Ho-Sang’s fearless tenacity with the puck. Ho-Sang gives Beauvillier more space than anyone he’s played with at the NHL level. Simply put, he’s skating hard and not scared to create. Playing like anything but a rookie with 11 games of NHL experience, Ho-Sang has been dynamic on offense. As well, his play away from the puck continues to improve. With Beauvillier’s energy and well-rounded play and Ho-Sang looking like an elite playmaker, the Islanders have the ability to surprise many teams if they make the playoffs. They just have to get there first.
The Future of the Isles
Two points behind the Bruins with a game in-hand, the Islanders need contributions from as many players as possible. As a result, Beauvillier and Ho-Sang must continue their recent surges. After not making a move at the trade deadline, the revitalized Beauvillier and call-up of Ho-Sang have paid dividends. If anything, they’ve made Islanders general manager Garth Snow look like a wise old sage. Before there’s any real celebration however, this team has to make the playoffs first. At this point, Tavares, as well as the Islanders’ youngsters, will have equal parts of the straw to stir. And while it’s a lot to ask of two rookies, Beauvillier and Ho-Sang appear ready to take on the task.
Over the past ten years as a working journalist, Patrick Hickey Jr. has covered the New York Islanders, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils, as well as the Brooklyn Aces of the former EPHL, contributing pieces and/or holding Editorial positions at NBC, New York Sports Day, NY Sportscene Magazine and the New York Times. During that time, he has interviewed NHL stars the likes of Brendan Shanahan, Bernie Nicholls, Bob Probert, Martin Brodeur and Zach Parise. He is also the first winner of the New York Islanders Blog of the Year Award, for his work on TheDriveForFive.com in 2008.