No one can tell the direction Kieffer Bellows’ pro hockey career will take. A week ago he was a prospect on an AHL hot streak, a few months ago he was a scratch for Bridgeport, and a year ago he was a rookie pro trying to find his way after an aborted college career and a bounce-back season in the WHL.
But his first two NHL games have been pretty rewarding and just what the Islanders needed for their third line. So we’ll remember them no matter how his career turns out.
Anders Lee’s NHL debut included a goal on a sure-why-not volley from the left wing that most NHL goalies not named Ondrej Pavelec would have stopped. His journey to Fit For Tonelli’s Number long-term captain included a playoff healthy scratch.
Last night Lee showed the opportunistic determination to help seal a win by negating an icing and depositing the empty net insurance goal that made Bellows’ tally stand up as the winner.
The development of prospects has long been a subject of debate among Islanders fans, though that is not uncommon among any team’s fanbase: Shouldn’t we have more studs? Shouldn’t Brent Thompson have more success stories? But the importance of Adam Pelech, the growth of Scott Mayfield, the adaptation of Michael Dal Colle from hyped would-be sniper to reliable bottom six forward, the maturation of Brock Nelson as a true NHL center — all of these things hint that having an outstanding NHL coach to apply the finishing touches is just as important.
So what to expect from Bellows long-term? Too soon to tell, but it was sure nice to have him last night, and it’s good to know Trotz is there to help Bellows take the next step.
- About last night: Trotz was pleased with the bottom six, and sees no reason why Bellows can’t be part of the solution. [LHH | NHL | Isles | Newsday | Post | Jewels From The Crown]
- Bellows’ parents were in the stands to see his big night. [Newsday] They also relished seeing his debut a couple of nights prior. [Post] (Speaking of Brian Bellows, a note about our headline: It references a retroactively viral clip of misogynistic and homophobic trash talk directed at Bellows’ father back in the “boys will be boys” era with Bryan Trottier when he was a Penguin. That’s not a proud moment, but 30 years later it’s kind of cool that the league has evolved since then and also that we can celebrate Kieffer, who wasn’t even born at the time, as an Islander in 2020.)
- The Islanders excel when they trust the process, which is why they keep proving they are never out of the game. [Post]
- Robin Lehner will never forget his time on Long Island. Like, permanently. [LHH]
- In their latest Islanders Anxiety episode, Dan and Mike discuss how certain forwards are carrying the load, and also stupid “pesky” NY Post (oh but he was misunderstood!) and Canadian media articles, plus a bonus: tantalizing KY ad. [LHH Podcasts]
- But the Devils really shouldn’t make their interim coach a permanent one. [All About The Jersey]
- The NHL and NHLPA will resume negotiations to prevent Lockout IV: First Blood. [NHL]
- The latest Beanpot reflects the changing face of college hockey. [College Hockey News]
- Shea Weber is going to be out a little while for the Canadiens. [NHL]
- The Oilers’ heavy reliance on McDavid and Draisaitl is reminiscent of the early years of Ovechkin. [TSN]
- The Flames just aren’t doing it for their new coach. [Sportsnet]
- Snoop Dogg will host a ‘90s night for the Kings, which is both funny and cool, and also reminiscent of when the Isles were really bad and had to resort to novelty promo nights to attract fans. [NHL]