New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz decided to make an example out of second-line winger Anthony Beauvillier on Dec. 11, benching the 24-year-old following a slow start to the 2021-22 season — just three goals and four assists in 21 games — while lagging behind on his defensive duties.
The message appeared to have been received by Beauvillier, who put together a strong showing in a 2-1 loss Tuesday night to the Detroit Red Wings that featured four shots on goal — his most in a game since Nov. 11 — and a vital second-period backcheck to foil an opposing 2-on-1 break.
That’s the sort of response Trotz and the Islanders were likely hoping from a younger player who had been called out by such a decision. But this wasn’t about teaching Beauvillier a lesson.
“I look at Anthony as a veteran player now,” Trotz admitted. “He’s been here since I’ve been here. This is his fourth season with me and he has a previous season before that. I look at him as a veteran player that’s still young and you want to get past some of those inconsistencies.”
Beauvillier has played over 350 games already in his career despite being just 24 years old. He’s also the seventh-longest tenured member of the Islanders’ current roster that is one of the oldest in the NHL.
Yet he still hasn’t been able to find the kind of consistency that would make him a 25-plus goal scorer. Over his first six years in the NHL, he’s posted an 82-game average of just 19.4 goals; a number that has been marred by streaky play.
The Islanders can’t afford to wait for Beauvillier to step up. They’re in last in the Metropolitan Division, the worst offensive team in the NHL by averaging just 2.18 goals per game this season, and are now facing a 10-day absence (at east) from Mathew Barzal as he entered league COVID protocols.
“I’m just trying to get that out. He’s a core player for us now,” Trotz said. “When there’s a number of people out — it’s not only him — you have to find that next level to your game… not just blend in. That’s why I’m trying to get him to the next level. There’s more to Anthony that probably Anthony doesn’t even know about.
“We see it, but he needs to see it. Sometimes you need those hard lessons along the way to understand it. I’m a Beau fan. I think he has another level for us. He needs to have another level for us. So do some of our other veterans. I’m not just pointing the finger at him.”