A lucky accident makes Islanders the best top-line combination

Earlier this season, Islanders coach Barrydios admitted he failed to split Anders Lee and Mathew Barzal in the team’s top forward line.

But when Barzal missed a handful of games with an injury earlier this month, it forced the Islanders to play Brock Nelson in that role. Sometimes the best ideas come by accident.

Since Barzal’s return, the topline has remained the same, with Nelson taking center stage on Lee and Beauvillier. It’s easy to see why.

After The Islanders beat the Stars 4-2 on Saturdaythe threesome has an expected goal average of 59.26 compared to an actual goal average of 57.14. Nelson added to the record with a hat-trick against Dallas to bolster Lee’s recent point win.

As it turns out, this configuration works, and the islanders reap the rewards.

“Leesy can keep the pucks alive deep down, and then Beau and Nelly, they’ve had good chemistry here for a number of years,” Detroit said. “It gives us some weight down low and keeps more pucks alive in the offensive zone.”

Brock Nelson has jumped to the top of the Isles, forming a powerful combination with Anders Lee and Anthony Beauvillier.
Robert Sabo

For a long time,diot said, he wanted Lee to make the left of the skillful center a little bigger alongside Barzal. Recently he has realized that this may not be so necessary.

This first line can generate the forecheck as opposed to just the rush. That was evident in Nelson’s second goal, assisted by Beauvillier and Lee, after the Islanders forced the problem in the Dallas zone.

“I think Beau is playing extremely well,” Nelson said. “A lot of speed, of course speed, can make plays. You can try to open up [he] can get you some pucks some good looks And Leesy, he was one of the hottest players in the league. You give him some pucks now, he’s feeling fine.”

Nelson’s hat-trick, completed by an empty goal with 20 seconds left on time, was almost a fluke. All three goals came in the third half of a game in which the Islanders walked a tightrope.

That created a post-game atmosphere in which Nelson’s second hat-trick of the season (the first was in Montreal in early November) came as a bit of an afterthought.

“Yes, it’s beautiful,” Nelson said. “I think it’s a by-product of a nice pass from Beau, the power play of just being in different spots, it’s nice to contribute.”

“Anyone on our team that scores a hat-trick is probably a good day,” saiddiot.

Then he was advised that all three came at the same time.

“Yeah, good time,” he said. “Everything is good.”

Asked if trade speculation involved Semyon Varlamov, who led the Islanders to victory with 37 saves,diot said he hadn’t heard Varlamov would be dealt before Monday’s deadline.

“You are speculators,” he said. “I haven’t heard anything about him going anywhere.”

Ryan Pulock’s slap-shot goal in the second period clocked a speed of 100.8 mph, according to MSG.

Islanders honored Jean Potvin, their former defender who died Tuesday, with a minute’s silence and video tribute. A lucky accident makes Islanders the best top-line combination


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