Islanders Need Eberle to Step Up Now

As well as the New York Islanders have played this season, they are still looking for production from one of their most productive players in the playoffs last year in Jordan Eberle. 

He has played in 11 games this season and has not scored a goal. He also missed significant time with an injury during the Islanders’ 10-game winning streak and does not seem like the same player he was last season. 

He continues to play on the top line with Anders Lee and Mathew Barzal, and even had plenty of scoring chances on Saturday night against the San Jose Sharks but was held scoreless. He was also beaten to the puck in overtime by Evander Kane, who set up the game-winning goal to end the Islanders’ five-game winning streak.

Impact on Team

Despite Eberle not contributing much to the offense, it hasn’t stopped Barzal from having a terrific start to the season. However, that duo at some point needs to start connecting with each other.  

Mathew Barzal New York Islanders
Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Thankfully, the Islanders have earned a point in 17 straight games, despite struggling on the power play. While New York does not have a top unit, Eberle’s group with Lee, Barzal, Ryan Pulock, and Devon Toews have not looked sharp.

After going most of the season with, at best, one or two chances per game on the man advantage, the Islanders have had 13 opportunities in the past two games and have only scored twice. Both of the goals scored came from the other unit. 

Regular Season Struggles

It doesn’t come as much of a surprise to see Eberle start the season slowly, as he has had a history of slow starts. Last season, it took him until his eighth game before he scored his first goal, before he, fortunately, finished with 19 goals. He did, however, score five of them in the last seven games. 

He did show that come playoff time he could turn the page, as he had goals in all four games against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. He then earned an assist in three of the four games against the Carolina Hurricanes in Round 2.

Carolina Hurricanes Petr Mrazek New York Islanders Jordan Eberle
Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek watches New York Islanders’ Jordan Eberle (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

With that being said, Eberle was rewarded this past offseason with a five-year deal to stay on Long Island. As much as it looks like the Islanders will be heading back to the playoffs for a second straight season, they need their veteran forward to get on the scoresheet. As he showed toward the end of last season, his goals tend to come in bunches, so now would be a great time to get going as New York’s schedule starts to pick up. 

They have only played 21 games, which is tied for the second-fewest in the league, and even had one day to prepare for their trip out west to face the Sharks. They had consecutive weeks with multiple off days in a row last month but will be playing nearly every other day after the Thanksgiving break. 

Perhaps the Islanders can benefit from moving Eberle off the top line for some time. They currently have Josh Bailey playing on the third line with Otto Koivula and Michael Dal Colle. That line has not produced much offense, so it will be interesting to see what head coach Barry Trotz decides to do this week when they take on the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, and Columbus Blue Jackets.