After emerging as a catalyst in the Islanders' 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs run and an Eastern Conference Finals appearance against the Tampa Bay Lighting, New York's line featuring Anthony Beauvillier, Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson is picking up where it left off into its 2021 season.
A week and a day away from next Thursday's 7 p.m. opener against the Rangers at MSG, Nelson put the unit's postseason momentum and preseason preparation into perspective.
"We've had some success and just a good combo of -- Beau touched on it, Bails makes a lot of great plays," Nelson said Wednesday. "Maybe flies under the radar for a lot of people, and not a flashy game, but he creates a lot. He's smart, good with the puck. And then Beau's got some speed -- good energy guy, creates a lot. And then just trying to read out those two in the middle and be reliable and easy to ready for them, and it's been fun.
"I think that's the biggest thing, too, is just going out there and playing relaxed to a certain degree and trusting one another. And Barry's had meetings with everyone, I'm sure, but he said he trusts our line to go out there and get the job done -- and not always offensively. I think that's the biggest thing, too -- is that points are a big focus for a lot of people but we feel we can help in a lot of other ways, too."
As the Islanders blitzed through a pair of series wins over the Florida Panthers (3-1) and Washington Capitals (4-1), the line heated up. A 4-3 series triumph past the Philadelphia Flyers followed, capped by a 4-0 shutout in Game 7 where Nelson (one goal, two assists), Beauvillier (one goal) and Bailey (two assists) led the charge.
Four months removed from a 4-2 series loss to the Lightning, Islanders head coach Barry Trotz sees the trio clicking as a return looms.
"Just three good hockey players that have a real competitive edge right now, lot of confidence and they're having success," Trotz said Wednesday. "They're playing the right way, they're playing quick, they're executing. They've trained the right way to be prepared.
"And I think, obviously, the long run we had in the bubble and the playoffs -- I just think those three guys have a lot of confidence and like playing on the same line together.
"So it's just a really good -- those three guys bring really different assets to the table. And as you put 'em all together, they're pretty impressive."