Of the seven goals the Islanders scored against the Bruins on Thursday, Anthony Beauvillier’s was the most important.
There’s the obvious reason for that: His third-period tally broke a tie and opened up the gates for the Islanders, who feasted on the Bruins' defense like men starved. But then there was also the fact that this was Beauvillier’s first goal this season – a season that so far has been pockmarked by a nine-game absence and an overall sense of frustration. And for Beauvillier, who played in his fourth game back from injury against the Penguins Saturday, it was also an indication that things were finally getting back to normal. After scoring 39 points last season, he only has three over the course of 10 games this year. Thursday felt like a turning point, he said.
"I feel like it took forever but it feels good," Beauvillier said after the morning skate Saturday. "You can squeeze your stick a little harder and you want it too much. You definitely think about it a little bit more. You want more chances, you want a bounce and stuff, but at the same time, I want to be there for my teammates in different ways . . . I just want to play well, and to have the points coming and goals coming is obviously always nice."
And though Barry Trotz didn’t exactly see Beauvillier imploding – he was still effective, though not in ways that immediately show up on the scoresheet – the coach did get a sense that he was trying to get over a hump. The hope is that, now that it’s behind him, he can return to the level of production that has thus far marked his Islanders career.
"You don’t see him pressing," Trotz said, but "what I see is a player – I call it hope-and-poke. You hope you’re going to get the puck and you poke at it and you hope it gets by him rather than just playing the right way and keeping it in front of you and battling through it and hoping for a break, basically. I started seeing that creep into his game a little bit."
Part of that has to do with physically acclimating to the game after a long absence, something that Beauvillier said he had to work through. He’s now gotten to the other side.
"I think I’m in more game shape now and I don’t really have to adjust anymore and the game is back," he said. "It feels like I can make plays out there and I felt the last couple of games (were) a lot better than the first few."
Trotz seems to agree, but added that Beauvillier’s experience likely shielded him from bad habits. Yes, he wasn’t scoring, but "I think he’s got better balance now as a little more mature player of understanding that he can contribute in different ways," Trotz said.
But while he may have realized that intellectually – and put it into practice – Trotz added that Beauvillier’s personality won’t let him settle until he's in the thick of the team's successes.
"I think he’s a player that has a high value in knowing he’s an important piece to our team," Trotz said. "He’s a contributing player and I think he values that and he has a sense of responsibility that that’s part of what he does for us . . . There’s no question that getting that one off, getting a goal, and now you’re feeling like you’re getting on the right track, it’s gotta help, and I sense that, no question."
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