NEWARK – Unlike many coaches around the NHL, Barry Trotz is not prone to shaking up his forward lines frequently. So, even when he just flip-flops two left wings at practice, as he did on Wednesday afternoon at Prudential Center, it’s significant.
The Metropolitan Division-leading Islanders, in a 1-1-2 slide, conclude a two-game road trip against the Devils on Thursday night. And it’s likely rookie Michael Dal Colle will skate with Mathew Barzal and Josh Bailey while struggling Anthony Beauvillier will again to try regain his scoring touch with third-line center Valtteri Filppula and Leo Komarov.
“You give an opportunity to someone else,” Trotz said. “It also puts a little bit of a red flag for the groups. Make sure you perform or you can be replaced.”
Tuesday night’s 3-1 loss at Boston marked Beauvillier’s fourth straight game without a point and he has just one goal and two assists in his last 13 games. His trio with Barzal and Bailey struggled for the third game in a row. Barzal did score the third-period equalizer in Saturday’s 4-2 win over the Kings at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum but the line had its ice time limited for poor play in the first two periods.
“We haven’t really been doing anything,” Beauvillier said. “We’ve been in our zone quite a bit. We got frustrated as a line and couldn’t get anything going. We have a four-line mentality. If one line doesn’t go, it’s a little harder for us to get going and get points.”
Beauvillier, 21, had four goals and one assist in a three-game span skating with Filppula and Komarov from Nov. 15-21 — he’s been with Barzal and Bailey since — including his first career hat trick in a 7-5 win over the Rangers at Barclays Center in their first game as a line.
Dal Colle, 22, has two goals and an assist in 16 games, including the winner against the Kings.
Skating with Barzal, who has three goals and six assists in his last 11 games, and Bailey, who has three goals and four assists in that span, theoretically could provide Dal Colle more scoring opportunities.
“They’re going to make plays,” Dal Colle said. “For me, it’s mostly trying to create space for those guys, giving them good matchups and getting in on the forecheck.”
Notes & quotes: Left wing Andrew Ladd (lower body) and defenseman Thomas Hickey (upper body) participated in their second straight full team practice but Trotz said there is still no timetable to activate either off injured reserve, nor any rush. “We’re healthy,” Trotz said … President and general manager Lou Lamoriello watched practice with Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur, who led Lamoriello’s Devils to three Stanley Cups and is now an executive with that organization.