The good news is that the New York Islanders have punched their ticket to the playoffs. The bad news is, they’re on a two-game skid to the league’s worst Buffalo Sabres and have a subpar 4-4-2 record in their last 10 games played. Despite the uncharacteristic play of Barry Trotz’s team, Anthony Beauvillier seems to have finally burst onto the scene at the right time for the Islanders as one of the few silver linings headed into the playoffs.
Beauvillier has been on a burner, scoring at a point per game pace (six goals, four assists) in his past 10 games. What’s most interesting is that seven of those 10 points came against the Isles cross-town rival, New York Rangers. Sitting out of playoff position, it might seem like it was easy to take advantage of a non-contending team, but going into the two-game series that started on April 29th, the Rangers had won seven of their last ten games and were making a push to claim a playoff spot. In short, the Rangers were one of the hottest teams in the NHL for the month of April, with Adam Fox putting his name in the Norris Trophy race and Mika Zibanejad finding his goal-scoring touch again.
“Beauvillier’s dominance over the Rangers officially began after his first career hat trick, which was during the first meeting between the two rivals in the 2018-19 season,” said Rachel Nones. “He also recorded an assist that game, to add insult to injury. He wrapped up the season series with a goal for a total of five points against the Rangers.”
That same dominance continued last week, scoring three goals on 12 shots in the two-game series and single handily revving the engine for the Islanders.
“Everything I touched seemed to go in,” Beauvillier said after the victory. “Those kind of nights, you just try to appreciate it and go from there. I thought our line and the whole group was really going well tonight. It was one of those nights where you just try and take advantage of it and appreciate it.”
Beauvillier turned has turned his game up when it’s mattered the most. Down the stretch, every game the Islanders play matters more and more, and Beau is showing he can be a big-game player.
It’s not just the Rangers that Beauvillier has found success against this season. In last night’s loss in Buffalo, the 23-year old winger found the back of the net again for his fourth goal, the fifth point in his last five games. The raw scoring statistics are enough alone to be confident in Beauvillier’s performance going into the post-season alone, but when you look a little deeper, you’ll see why he’s scoring more as of late.
Beauvillier has increased his shot volume to 3.4 shots per game in his last 10 contests. The Quebec native has been firing the puck at the net at a rapid rate, including a seven-shot game against the Sabres and two six-shot games against the Rangers in the last week.
Bailey & Nelson Also Contributing
Diving into the advanced analytics, Beauvillier’s numbers only look shinier in the same 10-game span. Beau sits second on the Islanders in expected goals-for (xGF) and on-ice shooting percentage (On-Ice SH%) at 5.17 and 14.06%. Brock Nelson leads the Islanders in xGF, while Josh Bailey leads in On-Ice SH%. The same line that dominated in the 2019-20 NHL playoffs is starting to find that same chemistry late in the season, despite the rest of the roster still trying to find their groove.
“I just think they’re skating. They’re making plays,” coach Trotz said before Tuesday’s game on MSG Network. “I was surprised how much they had the puck they really didn’t score yesterday, but they had the puck a lot. I just think that when they’re skating there are three pretty intelligent players that blend well.”
“Everybody thinks of (Nelson) as a playmaker, but he’s really a shooter,” Trotz said. “Bailey makes a lot of good plays and Beau is that guy that’s on the puck and creates a lot of those turnovers. Then he creates space for them because of his speed. When they’re together they’re probably no different than the Cizikas line just in a little softer way if you will.”
Beauvillier and the second line have been the Isles best offensive line as of late, leading the team in CF% almost nightly, and even had a 70.37 CF%, via Natural Stat Trick, in Tuesday night’s loss despite it being an ugly contest.
Many have concerns about the Islanders going into the 2020-21 NHL Playoffs. One of those concerns should not be the performances of Beauvillier and the second line. After Trotz put his lines in a blender, Beauvillier, Nelson, and Bailey have found their way back to each other and are finding success. The Isles will look to hit the reset button once the post-season starts, and the second line will look to carry their momentum into the playoffs for a hopeful repeat of their 2019-20 performance.
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James is a THW New York Islanders writer and podcast host of Nassaumen Hockey Podcast. A trusted source for Islanders content for many years at THW, James is passionate about keeping Islander fans up to date on the latest in Islanders news. Other content contributions also include his Co-Editor-in-Chief status for NYIslesBlog.com. For interview requests or to provide content info, follow James on Twitter.