WINNIPEG, Manitoba — His production doesn’t reflect it, yet, but Anthony Beauvillier is feeling better about his play of late. If nothing else, the young Islanders left wing is trying not to get down on himself as he struggles through the season.
“The production hasn’t been there all year,” Beauvillier said. “I think I’ve been on myself too much about it, putting myself down a little bit. Through the last two, three games, I’ve done a good job using my speed. I didn’t have many shots on goal but I’m starting to feel better, that’s for sure. It’s tough to not put pressure on yourself, especially when you’ve been struggling.”
The Islanders conclude a two-game road trip against the Jets at Bell MTS Place on Thursday night and Beauvillier will enter on a seven-game stretch without a point and in a 10-game goal drought after Tuesday night’s 4-0 loss at Columbus. The Isles are three-points behind the first-place Capitals in the Metropolitan Division as they seek their first playoff berth since 2016 and behind the second-place Penguins — who also have 95 points in 77 games — based on goal differential.
Beauvillier has been used on a third line centered by the equally-speedy Tanner Fritz the previous four games with Valtteri Filppula out for four weeks with an apparent left shoulder injury. Fritz, recalled from Bridgeport on March 20, was the lone Islander not to practice on Wednesday as he was given off for “maintenance,” but coach Barry Trotz said he expects him to be available against the Jets.
“No, no concern,” said Trotz, adding Fritz initially hurt himself in Sunday’s 2-0 win over the Coyotes at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum. “We’re just giving him a day and he’s fine.”
Still, Fritz’s trio with Beauvillier and Leo Komarov was the one line Trotz opted to skip in the rotation for some second- and third-period shifts against the Blue Jackets as it combined for just three shots and was on the ice for Artemi Panarin’s breakaway to make it 2-0 at 2:28 of the second period.
Beauvillier has 16 goals and eight assists in 76 games after compiling 21 goals and 15 assists in 71 games last season. Of course, the Islanders had long been eliminated by this point last season.
“It’s been a lot different,” Beauvillier said. “Last year we were out of the playoffs and you’re already thinking about where you want to go on vacation. It’s more fun to be in the position we are now, that’s for sure. There are emotional games coming up and I try to wake up every day just telling myself we’re in the playoffs and trying to prepare myself for it.”
Beauvillier is confident the Islanders can be a dangerous team if they do make the playoffs.
“As soon as you make it, anything can happen,” Beauvillier said. “You saw Vegas last year. An expansion team made it to the Stanley Cup final. We’ve had a good season. Everyone believes in themselves in here and we believe in the group.”