New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson is trying to sustain success for an entire season—something he hasn’t done since entering the NHL.
On Wednesday, Oct. 11, in a 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson notched two goals despite logging a paltry 14:28 of ice time.
It was a familiar sight. Over the last four seasons, no player has been as dominant out of the gate as Nelson has. Unfortunately, his success tends to be short-lived.
Nelson, 26, has three goals and an assist through the first six games of the 2017-18 season. While his even-strength ice time is down, he’s been thrust into a bigger role with the man advantage.
Since entering the league four years ago, Nelson has been one of the most erratic scorers in hockey. He’s garnered a reputation for his strong starts and weak finishes. That status is well deserved.
After a uniform rookie campaign, Nelson’s numbers really started to shift. Through the first six games of each of the last four seasons, Nelson averaged 0.83 or more points per game every year — surpassing the average of every other skater on the team.
In 2014-15, for instance, he tallied four goals and four helpers in that span. He finished with 20 goals and 22 assists on the season. Those six games, which accounted for a measly seven percent of his total contests, also accounted for more than 19 percent of his point production.
It’s been more or less the same ever since.
Pundits have attempted to answer why many times before. It’s important, they reasoned, to identify the culprit, so that it will be easier to fix when it happens
again. Well, it’s happened again, and we don’t seem to know much more than we did before.
While we don’t know if, and when, Nelson will cool off, there are reasons to believe that this year won’t be like every other. For starters, Nelson seems to be playing stronger with and without the puck, which has helped him establish his presence on both ends of the ice.
Written off as one-dimensional, offensive-minded player, Nelson has used his 6-foot-3, 206-pound frame to his advantage. This will help him remain effective, even when he’s kept off the stat sheet.
There’s another reason, and this is something that Nelson has nothing to do with. Joshua Ho-Sang, his newly minted linemate, is a perfect compliment to his game. Ho-Sang’s excellent vision and supreme playmaking ability make him an ideal match for Nelson, whose wrist shot from the slot has made him a mainstay in the National Hockey League.
Ho-Sang, who made his debut last spring, draws defenders to himself with his creativity, and thus opens up the rest of the ice to guys like Nelson, who is lethal in front of the net.
Speaking about Nelson’s performance in the context of the previous game, head coach Doug Weight told Newsday‘s Arthur Staple “He was good, he was physical, very assertive, very reliable and he created a lot of offense. That was exciting for me to see and I needed to see it frankly.”
The Islanders will need to see it all season if Nelson wishes to buck the trend and produce consistently.