ELMONT — Mathew Barzal still texts one of his best friends, Anthony Beauvillier, almost every day.
When Beauvillier was at Madison Square Garden taking on the Rangers Wednesday night, Barzal was watching.
“He’s playing well,” Barzal said.
But in a week in which the word “weird” has been thrown about all too often, abnormalities will be all too prevalent Thursday night when the Islanders take on the Vancouver Canucks.
Beauvillier, who was traded by the Islanders to the Canucks in the Bo Horvat deal after spending seven years with the organization, will suit up against his former team — a roster filled with old friends.
“It’s definitely going to be a different feeling but I’m happy for him,” Barzal said Thursday morning. “I’m excited to see him out there.”
The 25-year-old winger, who scored 102 goals in his Islanders career, hasn’t gone all that far, though.
Despite the trade happening on Jan. 30 during the All-Star break, his first games as a Canuck came in New Jersey against the Devils and in Manhattan against the Rangers — further extending what has understandably been an emotional farewell to the team that drafted him in 2015.
“I want to get out west as soon as we can here. It’s definitely been a weird couple days,” Beauvillier said on Thursday evening just a few hours before puck drop. “The timing ended up being that we play the New York teams right away and it’s good and bad.
“I get to get it out of the way and turn the page right away but at the same time, it’s like, ‘alright, I want to get going here. I want to get to Vancouver.”
A video tribute is expected to be played for Beauvillier, whose claim to fame with the Islanders will be scoring the game-winning overtime winner of Game 6 of the 2021 Stanley Cup semifinal against the Tampa Bay Lightning which also proved to be the last goal ever scored at team’s former home, the Nassau Coliseum.
“I actually had someone send that to me today and I watched it again,” Beauvillier said. “Those are memories that are going to last forever. It was such a great moment for not only myself, but the team and the fans… It’s going to be something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
While Beauvillier will be forced to get used to the visitor’s locker room at UBS Arena and sitting on the opposite bench, his old teammates are going to have to get used to seeing him in the blue and green of Vancouver.
“We brought in a great player and person [in Horvat] but we lost some good people,” defenseman Ryan Pulock said. “Beau over the years, we created a great relationship and you become close friends. So when that happens, it’s a bit of a shock. But going into this business, you know that these things can happen.
“I think tonight’s going to be exciting. I’m excited for the fans giving him a welcome-back and I think he’s very deserving of that. I’m just excited to see him.”