The Islanders have started off the 2021–22 season with just one win over three games. After a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, the offense finally began to click, as Anthony Beauvillier, Cal Clutterbuck, and Oliver Wahlstrom all contributed goals.
A much-needed victory was on the line, and now the team will prepare to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets in the fourth game of the regular season on Thursday evening. With Wahlstrom leading the team with three points and three goals, Columbus presents a team winning two of their first three games but is coming off a 4–1 defeat to the Detroit Red Wings.
The Islanders, though, are still waiting on Anders Lee to make a return, relying on one youth player to pick up the slack in the meantime.
2016 first-round pick, Kieffer Bellows, was inserted into the game against Chicago, playing in about 13 minutes of action. He contributed five hits and one shot on goal. His development and impact will go a long way this season, especially if injuries begin to arise.
“It is [important], not only for our franchise but for every franchise,” said Trotz. “There’s some backside pressure there, which you need. You need it for the salary cap. You need it for freshness and you need it to continue filling spots. You’re always going to lose players over the years.”
Lee was scratched against Chicago, and it is unlikely he takes on Columbus on Thursday with the Islanders, but after he overcomes an illness, Islander fans will be happy to welcome him back with open arms. Of course, the pairing of Lee, Matthew Barzal, and Kyle Palmieri represent the majority of their offense.
However, keep an eye on Bellows this season — more action will help his growth, but in the meantime, look ahead to the impact of Lee’s return,