Numbers don’t lie.
Despite forward Brock Nelson‘s season thus far, he’s in the midst of a 10-game goal drought. And the Islanders are 4-5-1 over that span and are under the playoff cutline.
To put this latest slump into perspective, in 2021-22, the longest Nelson went without a goal was four games, and he’s surpassed that twice already in the first 42 this season.
“Yeah, I feel like over the stretch–I wouldn’t Iie and say I played 10 great games for sure–but definitely some games in there, I feel like I had quite a few good looks, some shots,” Nelson said prior to Thursday’s game against the Minnesota Wild. You’d like to get one again.”
“It doesn’t mean you’re not playing well, but you’d obviously like to see some results.”
As we saw earlier in the year, the lack of goals from Brock Nelson hasn’t been from a lack of shots, with 22 over his last 10. The issue has been missing the net, with 14 shots sailing high or wide.
In the Islanders 2-1 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night, Nelson was only credited with one shot on goal as he missed the net four times.
“Last game, for sure. I was kind of missing the net, had a couple of one-timers where I didn’t get them on net,” Nelson said. “I had the two-on-one look with Bailey in the second, obviously, shot missing the net.”
“Yeah, I mean, I’ve had a couple of chats with Lane [Lambert] about different things and whatnot. And obviously, you’d like to score and produce, but there’s other ways. I’ve said that before, to try and still impact the game and the team.”
To Nelson’s credit, he is on pace for a career-high in assists and has gone just 12 games without a point.
Winning and losing doesn’t just fall on Nelson’s shoulders, but there’s been a trend this season when he does light the lamp–an undefeated one.
When Nelson scores a goal, the Islanders are 12-0-0 this season. When he doesn’t, the Islanders are 10-17-3.
“Well, I think with Brock, we had a conversation earlier in the year. And I feel like he’s getting his opportunities,” New York Islanders head coach Lane Lambert said. “As we said at the beginning when it comes, it’s going to really come, and I think it’s getting close, and hopefully, tonight is the night.”
Nelson had a tremendous 2021-22 campaign, despite the organization’s failures. He set a career-high in goals with 37 and points with 59. He was as consistent offensively as he had ever been in his nine years in the NHL, and the Islanders would need that in 2022-23 if they were going to get themselves back into the postseason.
But Broctober’s October was uncharacteristic, as he went the first seven games of the season without a goal. Despite the goal drought, the skilled scorer was helping the Islanders out in a different way, as he recorded six assists over that span.
Although the assists helped the Islanders’ offense, Nelson was being paid to score goals, and it wasn’t from a lack of trying.
He was firing at will, with 18 shots, but did not seem to have the touch he displayed a few months prior.
But things changed quickly for Nelson after lighting the lamp twice against the Carolina Hurricanes in the eighth game of the season on Oct. 28.
Although both goals were back-door plays, a goal was a goal, and it kickstarted what has turned into an All-Star first half for no. 29.
In twenty-five games, from the Hurricanes contest to the win over Vegas Golden Knights on Dec. 17, Nelson scored 15 goals with 12 assists. That was 27 points in 25 games as he became the X-factor for the Islanders.
With how tight the playoff race is in the Metropolitan Division, the Islanders, who have struggled to score goals as of late, need their best scorer to get cooking again if they want to stay involved in the conversation.