Anthony Beauvillier could be staring down a protracted time on the Islanders’ bench.
After Beauvillier was temporarily benched during Thursday night’s loss against the Predators and was a healthy scratch in Saturday’s win over the Devils, Barry Trotz said he’s still contemplating whether the winger will play Tuesday night in Detroit against the Red Wings.
Beauvillier, who’s gone without a point in 13 games, hardly is the only Islander struggling, though — and Trotz intimated Saturday that he has no problem with the rest of the team reading into the benching. In other words: Any underperforming player could be next.
In the Nashville game, Trotz did not give Beauvillier a shift for the first 9:59 of the second period after his lackadaisical defense late in the first period led to a goal. Then he scratched him for the next game.
Trotz added that though he and Beauvillier had a conversation before his benching, they haven’t spoken about that subject since then.
"I haven’t really talked about sitting out Saturday’s game," he said after practice Monday. "We talked before where his head is at. I would be remiss to try to make something up, so we’ll probably talk on the way to the plane here or on the plane or when we get in. I don’t really have an answer right now . . . We talked about what he needed to do, so that was between me and him and will remain between me and him."
Saturday marked the first time in a long time that the Islanders were (almost) fully healthy. Ryan Pulock remains out because of a lower-body injury, but they returned Casey Cizikas and Brock Nelson and finally have all of their players back from the COVID-19 outbreak that rocked the team last month. Now Trotz will have more flexibility about who, if anyone, he wants to scratch. And that message has reverberated throughout the locker room, defenseman Andy Greene said.
"Nobody likes to be sitting out," he said. "We’re all competitive. Barry motivated people. You have to make sure that you bring your game every night and you’re ready to play."
Greene hoped that Saturday’s win, the team’s first in eight tries at UBS Arena, could be a turning point for the last-place Islanders (7-11-5), who have not won back-to-back games since Nov. 4-6.
"We’ve just got to build off it," he said. "We did a lot of good things throughout the whole game and it’s important to carry that momentum going forward here, making sure we’re implementing our game plan into the Detroit game . . . You have to revert back to certain things in your game that steadies things out when things are going a little haywire. You kind of slow it down a little bit and get back to your game and simplify things and go from there."
Oliver Wahlstrom, who has six points in the last three games despite limited ice time, is showing a progression to his game, Trotz said. Wahlstrom, a pure sharpshooter, has five assists in that stretch.
"I think lately, he’s had more awareness. He’d try to score so much that he would bury that head and try to go in and now, you look at him" and what he’s done recently, Trotz said. "I think he’s starting to use all the tools a little bit."