New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson needs to do exactly what his head coach implored him to do at the start of April: “Pick his s-it up.”
By Justin Weiss
To say that Brock Nelson has been mediocre this postseason would be the understatement of the century.
After spurring an offensive outburst in game one, Nelson was a detriment to the Isles’ chances in game two. This has been the song of his season, and is something deeply ingrained in the young goal-scorer’s mind.
His up-and-down play has forced head coach Jack Capuano to make a decision about Nelson’s status moving forward. Will he continue to play with Shane Prince and Ryan Strome? Will he continue to play at all?
“I’m not going to single out Brock, but there are a few guys that I think struggled a little bit,” Capuano said, via Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post. “I think you guys know who they are. But that happens. We have to move on to Game 3, and hopefully guys can bring their ‘A’ game and play little bit better at home.
“At this point, now we’re going back home, for sure there could be some ‘D’ changes or some line combination changes. Absolutely.”
Those of you who have read my work over the past couple of years have likely noted something about me: Just like Capuano, I’m not a fan of singling players out. I’ve always argued that hockey is a team game and the responsibility of the players is to play as a unit.
However, I’m going to make an exception here and “grill” the third year winger. Despite what the statsheet may otherwise suggest, Nelson has been brutal for much of the playoffs, both on and off-the-puck.
Hockey Forecaster does an excellent job of providing accurate scouting reports. In their feature on Nelson, they noted that the 24-year-old “needs to work on his game-to-game consistency” and “lacks some physicality.”
This couldn’t be more precise.
Nelson, 24, was blessed with both size (6’3″) and playmaking acumen (his 26 goals ranked second on the team). But while the Warroad, Minnesota native occasionally gives off the impression that he is a force to be reckoned with, he is more-often-than-not caught turning the puck over, being too soft in the defensive zone, and going on long stretches when he can’t find the back of the net.
It would be remiss not to address what Nelson has done best (and what he’s being paid to do): light the lamp. But at the same token, it’s imperative that we address the issue that’s been plaguing the Isles this postseason.
Nelson needs a message drilled into the back of his head that his immense size is supposed to be a force for good, not his Achilles Heel.
If he comprehends that – and plays like his size indicates he should – he should play a key role in helping New York advance to the Conference Finals.