Going into the Toronto bubble for the Stanley Cup qualifiers and playoffs, there was doubt and concern surrounding the New York Islanders.
Part of it was that the team was slumping prior to the COVID-19 pause and was in danger of falling out of the playoff picture. The other thing concerning about the team was the offense. Fans were asking and debating amongst themselves whether or not the players on the roster were good enough to beat the Florida Panthers in the qualifying round and make a run into the playoffs.
At the time of writing this article, the Islanders have eight wins out of a necessary 19 to hoist the Stanley Cup. There is still a lot of work to do if they want that endgame, but one player that has calmed fans and relieved his teammates of some of the offensive burden is Anthony Beauvillier.
Just What They Needed
Beauvillier has given the Isles exactly what they needed: multi-line production, power-play success, and consistent scoring. The left-winger has seven goals and three assists for a total of 10 points in 11 games. He has four of New York’s seven power-play goals and is second in points on the team behind only Josh Bailey, who has 11.
Beauvillier has also been one of the most consistent Islanders throughout the playoffs, tallying a point in eight different games – all four games against Florida, three of the five games against Washington, and in one of the two games against Philadelphia so far. One of those goals was an enormous goal for the Isles in Game 5 against the Capitals.
What’s important about his scoring is that it alleviates pressure on the top line trying to score all the goals for a normally defensive-minded team. That multi-line scoring plays a huge part in the success of Mathew Barzal, Jordan Eberle and Anders Lee. There are times where the Barzal line does not go up against the top defensive units of other teams any longer because of it.
Instead, the second line has been such a threat that Brock Nelson, Bailey and Beauvillier draw the top lines against other teams. It was no matter though, as Beauvillier was able to solve the Flyers’ phenom goaltender Carter Hart in Game 2. This depth throughout the first two lines, as well as two strong bottom lines, is massive and an integral part of New York’s success. With that goal, Beauvillier surrounded himself in good company for most goals through a player’s first 11 postseason games.
If people know of Beauvillier’s play historically, it should not come as a surprise that he has become not just a scoring threat, but an offensive one in general. In the 2014-15 season (his draft year), the winger tallied 42 goals and 52 assists for 94 points with the Shawinigan Cataractes. The former first-round pick was a late-round steal at 28th overall.
The following season, he added 40 goals and 39 assists for 79 more points with Shawinigan. In the 2017-18 season with the Islanders, he was demoted to Bridgeport for three games and had two goals. He was recalled and finished the year with 21 goals and 15 assists for 36 points for a career-high in points prior to this season. The point? Beauvillier has found success at every level even if he has gone through adversity, such as a demotion.
This season, Beauvillier had 39 points and was on pace for 47. Now, in the second round of the playoffs, the Philadelphia Flyers must recognize Beauvillier as a legitimate scoring threat. He and the second line have been on fire in this postseason and they have been a key to the Islanders’ success.
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He has also reformed his defensive game since being in the bubble. Before the pause, Beauvillier had a poor minus-11 rating, and now in the playoffs, he’s a plus-10. Plus/minus isn’t always the best statistic to prove a point, but the bottom line is he has not been on the ice for many goals against which, no matter how you look at it, is solid. If the second line can be dangerous offensively and responsible defensively, it’ll be one of the most complete second lines of the teams remaining in the bubble.
Of those remaining teams, there is only one Stanley Cup champion in the post-lockout era, and that is the Boston Bruins when they won in 2011. There is no reason for the Islanders to not have a serious chance at making a deep postseason run, but they’re going to need Beauvillier and the second line to be able to do it.