Anthony Beauvillier off to slow start; What gives?
The Islanders have had a roller coaster ride of a season so far, from shutout wins against the Western Conference favorite to blowout losses where they looked like they were skating in molasses. They’re currently 3-3 and looking to get back over .500 with a win in San Jose on Saturday night. This game will mark the last of a California road trip that took them up the coast from Anaheim.
After Thursday night’s beatdown of the L.A. Kings, all seems to be well on the Island. However, there are a few concerning statistics that come with that win, and the beginning of the season overall. The first being that Valtteri Filppula is the Islanders’ leading scorer with four goals and two assists. The second and more prominent issue is that first line winger (we’ll get to that in a second) and young stud Anthony Beauvillier is pointless so far and has a plus/minus of -4. Let’s dig a little deeper into how and why this is an issue for the young forward.
Added pressure after departure of Tavares
Beau’s struggles during the early stretch of the season were mentioned on NHL Network just a few days ago, and most analysts agree that the young winger has put too much pressure on himself to score in his new role on the top line.
While Mat Barzal has continued his point per game production, and the rest of the forward for the most part have carried their weight, Beau just seems to be gripping the stick a little too tight. He’s not letting the play come to him, and he’s trying to do too much. Beau is at his best when he lets the game come to him, like he did during his torrid scoring streak to end last season.
Limited Power Play opportunities
Beau has seen limited action on the Power Play, but even when he has been on he hasn’t generated many chances or really gotten an opportunity to make a play. The first power play unit is anchored by the unreal passing of Mat Barzal, and the Alex Ovechkin-lite talents of Josh Bailey. Anders Lee is also always in front for mop up duty.
The second unit is more of a shoot and deflect type Power Play, with Ryan Pulock as the focal point. The entire focus of the second unit is to create time and space for Pulock to launch that slap shot from the point. The fact that Beau doesn’t necessarily fit into any of these roles is the main reason why he hasn’t been scoring.
If Beau can either sacrifice his body to get to the net, or be more assertive with the puck on the Power Play, he’ll generate more scoring opportunities and eventually get on the scoresheet. Until then, he’ll be pointless.
Mish-mosh of linemates
Beau’s biggest issue in my opinion isn’t an issue with him at all. Barry Trotz has blended up the lines quite a few times in six games, and Beau has been the odd man out during most of those line changes. He was recently demoted from top line duties to third line winger, alongside Val Filppula and Leo Komarov. Komarov is a black hole possession wise, and although Filppula is on a hot streak right now, is shooting an insane 57%.
As stated before, Beau needs a facilitator to get his game going, and neither of the veterans are that. He may see himself back on a line with Mat Barzal soon, because this kid is too talented to have this streak prolong for much longer. If Trotz is going to mix up the lines, he needs to have people to get Beau the puck to see him succeed.
Is it that concerning that Anthony Beauvillier hasn’t scored yet? A bit, but it’s still very early in the season. We’ve seen this pretty much every season with Brock Nelson come December, but based off the way Beau finished the season last year, it is something to note.
When the Islanders take the ice Saturday night against the Sharks, look for Beau to have more of an impact than he’s had the past six games. Having him with the right linemates is key, and him being able to just relax and play his game is paramount. There’s no reason for him to put too much pressure on himself just yet. The points will come. The question is, can he restore confidence in himself?
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