With Anthony Beauvillier back in the lineup, there was an initial thought that head coach, Barry Trotz, would keep the forwards mixed up. This turned out to be true, for a game or so. Beauvillier was placed on the third line with J.G. Pageau and Oliver Wahlstrom, with the other lines remaining intact. The idea was sound – the first line, driven by Mathew Barzal, continued to pump out points, even with Josh Bailey off of his game, and the second line seemed to be gaining momentum on the back of Jordan Erbele. Michael Dal Colle seemed to find his way in the top-six and Brock Nelson began slowly getting his swagger back, albeit without the results many of us would like.
This was short-lived, however; the top-six that drove the Islanders through the post-season was reunited after Dal Colle went down with an injury.
Now, with Eberle back with Barzal and Anders Lee, that line continues to buoy the Islanders’ offense along with strong play by the fourth line. Pageau is also having a heck of a year so far with help from Wahlstrom and a mix of Leo Komarov, Kieffer Bellows and Austin Czarnik. The third line is contributing, something we haven’t really seen from said line since Valtteri Filppula potted 17 goals during the 2017-18 season.
J.G. Pageau's face after scoring the goal = PRICELESS😛#Isles @JGPageau pic.twitter.com/LMrPkxBj6q
— Isles on MSG+ (@IslesMSGN) February 23, 2021
As for the second line, it’s been — quiet.
Nelson has seen some results on the powerplay, but his even-strength play hasn’t been what we’re used to. Beauvillier is slowly getting his legs and timing back, so it may take a few more games before we really see him back at full-strength. As previously mentioned, Bailey is a moving target. He certainly has his moments but has largely been mistake-ridden so far this season, as have the Islanders in general, which is not a characteristic associated with a Trotz-led Isles squad.
With the other lines clicking, even with the LW3 spot continuing to be a revolving door this season, it’s the second line that needs to get its act together. It’s tough to move around players when the three other lines are starting to get their act together. Do the Islanders have time to wait until they get back on track? What are the other options?
The only thing I can think of is that Dal Colle goes back to the second line and Beauvillier or Bailey joins Pageau and Wahlstrom. With how well Dal Colle has played, driving play even without showing up on the scoresheet, this option may help balance the middle-six and increase production while being sound defensively.
Follow Jon on Twitter @JonZella