The Islanders are 57-2-3 when scoring three goals or more under Barry Trotz. This unimaginable number shows just how successful Trotz has been establishing structure and grit into his new squad.
After establishing a new culture, Trotz has solidified the Islanders as one of the most challenging teams to play against in the National Hockey League (NHL). There is an identity that bends but doesn’t break clearly present and the Islanders have thrived because of it.
Other teams don’t like playing the Islanders. Their stringent defensive system, dominant goaltending tandem and balanced offensive attack create a nightmare. Subsequently, New York is 22-7-2 this season and 70-34-9 since Trotz took over as head coach. That is good for the best record in the NHL in that time frame.
Specific players have thrived during this time. While the team as a whole has been uplifted, the individual play of a few emerging stars has catapulted the Islanders into contention. Let’s take a look at three of those comeback stories.
Being known as a product of another teammate is a difficult thing. Early in his career, Anthony Beauvillier was known as Mat Barzal’s wingman. The two did everything together on and off the ice. But under Trotz, Beauvillier has emerged as one of the best players on the squad.
Playing up and down the lineup last season, Beauvillier made his teammates around him better. On all lines, he worked hard and did the little things correctly.
This season, he has been sensational. On Saturday against the Sabres, Beauvillier generated nearly all the Islanders offense. His overtime game-winner was the perfect example of what he brings to the table: tenacity and the ability to contribute in big moments.
If Beauvillier can keep this up and ellipse the 50-point mark this year, the two-year, $4.2 million contract he took last offseason will be a fantastic long-term, personal investment for the young Canadian.
Where do I even begin?
Adam Pelech went from being the most-hated man on the team under Weight to Trotz’s most reliable defenseman. After being diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and struggling immensely on the ice, it seemed like Pelech’s future might not be on the Island.
But he persevered. Slowly but surely, he grew into one of the best shutdown, stay-at-home defensemen in the NHL. His physical style of play is daunting. He has patented the poke check and pinch.
There was once a time when Pelech scored more on his own goal then the oppositions’. Not this year. Pelech is revitalized and his potential is endless.
Two offseason ago, Brock Nelson was the x-factor. When John Tavares bolted for the Maple Leafs, the responsibility of number one center was immediately passed down to Nelson. Gifted more responsibility and freedom, he excelled.
Nelson quickly emerged as a top defensive forward and shut down all-stars each and every night. Trotz trusted him as a penalty-killer and two-way talent and he earned himself a hefty six-year, $36 contract after signing the one-year deal.
And this season has been no different. Brocktober has extended into December, bringing holiday happiness to all. With Nelson and Barry Trotz leading the way, the Islanders have been able to take immense strides in all aspects of the game.