One thing about the Islanders now and the past few seasons has been the difficulty to produce offense. For some like head coach Barry Trotz and g.m. Lou Lamoriello, it’s the least of their concerns. Or so they say. For the fans, it’s one of the most enigmatic facets they deal with watching every night.
Jordan Eberle has been one of those key players on offense who was expected to be depended on to help drive the attack. Outside of his first season with the club in 2017-18, where he scored 25 goals in 78 games, and his tremendous playoff against the Penguins, Eberle has struggled to be the consistent source for production. But his start to this year feels a little different.
Eberle is looking like the player the Islanders envisioned he can be.
Known for being a slow starter, the 30-year-old has five goals in 11 games, which has him atop the team leaderboard; Eberle was on a three-game goal streak before going scoreless in Monday’s win over the Rangers. His seven points also has him just behind Mathew Barzal for most on the team. On top of that, Eberle’s been able to produces as a part of the first and second line, something that has helped the Isles of late and given the offense a new wrinkle.
“We talked about getting a little bit more of the interior grind, training a little different, preparing a little different,” Trotz said of Eberle a few weeks back. “He’s gone through those things. He asked his trainers in Calgary to add that to his already extensive training camp preparation and, hopefully, just those little tweaks we’ve asked him to make, they’re paying off for him.”
Eberle came into this year in need of a big season for a litany of reasons. His disappointing playoff performance in the bubble — five goals in 22 games and being snake bitten for two rounds — left a sour taste in a lot of people’s mouths. Plus, there’s the underlying factor of him being possibly exposed to the expansion draft for the Seattle Kraken this summer as the Islanders are still in cap salary hell and his contract being expendable.
He seems to have gotten the message though.
Eberle has shown a more aggressive side to him so far. As The Athletic’s Arthur Staple pointed out yesterday, he’s second on the team with 50 shot attempts. His underestimates skill is showing off too. The goal on he scored on Saturday to open the game was vintage Eberle: driving to the net strong on the backhand.
He made an identical move on Monday against Igor Shesterkin but ended up hitting the post.
— IslesBlog (@IslesBlog) February 7, 2021
There’s still a lot of season left for the Isles’ offense to keep improving. Having a confident and consistent Eberle will only help with that dynamic. His season has been a bright spot thus far.
And it’s because he’s looking and playing like the player everyone knows he can be.
Another day, another twist in the saga that is Josh Ho-Sang. This time, not the good kind. It was reported earlier this morning that he and the club the Isles loaned him to, Orebro Hockey club is Sweden, had parted ways due to “fitness issues”.
Ho-Sang who joined Orebro in January appeared in five games and recorded just one assist.
It will be interesting to see where he heads next.
Barry Trotz went on NHL Network yesterday and after becoming the third-winningest coach in NHL history after he won his 850th game behind the bench on Monday. He also talked about what has been the driver behind his success with the Islanders.
Barry Trotz's approach is the 🗝️ to his success.
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) February 10, 2021
Also, great to see Mark Parish back on the Network after his hiatus and coming out about his addiction problems.