Mathew Barzal didn’t spend too much time thinking about the possibility. But the speedy center never dismissed the idea that Islanders coach Barry Trotz again would place him on a line with speedy wing Anthony Beauvillier.
“We kind of switch lines all the time and mix it up,” Barzal said. “Maybe I thought we would get back together, but I wasn’t too worried about it. I think Barry knows what’s best.”
Trotz reunited Barzal with Beauvillier and Josh Bailey — an effective line for much of last season — against the Maple Leafs on Saturday night in Toronto. The trio generated six shots — four by Bailey and none by Beauvillier — but was on the ice for both of the Leafs’ even-strength goals in the Islanders’ 3-0 loss.
There’s no guarantee Trotz will keep the line together against the Avalanche on Monday night at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum, where they have lost four straight.
Trotz has had a tough time finding the right combinations to spark the Islanders’ struggling offense. A season-long issue has been finding a mix for a third line — is Derick Brassard a fit as the center or is he a top-six wing? — in order to effectively roll four lines. Also problematic is the recent lack of scoring from some of those the Isles need most to score.
They have been held to two or fewer goals in four of their last six games and have scored only one goal in their last two games after being shut out for the second time this season Saturday.
“Oh, for sure,” Beauvillier said of the team feeling the pressure to produce more. “As a player, you want to score. You want to get points. The results are frustrating when we don’t score. You want to get scoring chances and get on the scoresheet. It’s kind of on us.”
Scoring chances weren’t the issue against the Leafs — the Isles had 33 shots on goal and 48 attempts — but finishing opportunities has been a problem.
Beauvillier has one assist in the last eight games. Bailey, shuttled between third-line center and wing, has one assist in his last 10 games. Anders Lee has one assist in his last five and Jordan Eberle has gone without a point in that span.
The lack of scoring has led to some wondering if Kieffer Bellows is a candidate to be recalled from the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport after scoring 12 goals in a 15-game stretch. He was the 19th overall pick in 2016 but has yet to make his NHL debut.
“He’s had an outstanding month,” president and GM Lou Lamoriello said. “He’s gotten our attention and we’re monitoring him closely and consistency is what we need.”
Notes & quotes: The Islanders, who did not practice on Sunday, will reach the season’s midpoint on Monday. They will conclude the back-to-back, and a stretch of four games in six days, at New Jersey on Tuesday night.