Prospect Ramblings: Capuano firing could affect young Islanders (Jan. 21)

Mark Allan


Jean-Francois Berube, who starts for the Islanders today, will get more playing time with Jaroslav Halak in the AHL, and could get even more starts depending on who will coach the team.


Interim head coach Doug Weight didn’t shake up the Islanders’ faltering lineup in his first game after replacing the fired Jack Capuano, although the coaching change could affect the short-term fate of some young, little-used players.

After the Isles burned a season of winger Anthony Beauvillier’s entry-level deal by playing him more than nine games, his production tailed off after a good start. Capuano often made the undersized yet dynamic 2015 first-rounder a healthy scratch recently, stalling him at four goals and seven assists in 30 games.

In his first game with Weight calling the shots, Beauvillier had just 14 shifts totaling 11:28, although he did get 58 seconds of PP time in a 3-0 win over the visiting Dallas Stars. Those 58 seconds might be deceiving because Dallas killed penalties for almost 13 minutes, allowing 18 SOGs.

In one game under Weight, Beauvillier played 35 seconds fewer than his average under Capuano, although he previously averaged just 15 seconds of PP time. He’ll be a contributor to the Isles for a long time but, barring a deadline deal to free some icetime, expect him to see limited action the rest of the season because the team has an abundance of NHL-caliber forwards albeit a critical shortage of stars.

Although Thomas Greiss is coming off two straight shutout victories, over the Bruins and Stars, rookie NHL goalie Jean-Francois Berube starts for the Islanders today against the visiting Kings in the first of back-to-back home games in Brooklyn. Berube’s stats of 0-2-1, 3.14 and .904 do not inspire confidence but he’s still trying to shake rust off after rotting in the press box most of the past two seasons while the NYIs carried three netminders on their NHL roster.

They did that because they thought enough of Berube to not want to lose him on waivers if they tried to send him to the AHL. Now, with former starter Jaroslav Halak banished to the AHL with a GAA even higher than Berube’s, Berube will surely get more starts than he was regardless of who the coach is.

That’s important because the Islanders approached Gerard Gallant after he was unceremoniously sacked as head coach by Florida – while Capuano was still coaching in Brooklyn. Gallant, a former assistant coach with the Isles, would be a good choice if the team decides to not wait until the off-season to officially replace Capuano.

Claude Julien is apparently skating on thin ice with the Bruins, so Islanders’ GM Garth Snow and the team’s relatively new owners might not be able to restrain themselves if the veteran Boston coach became available.

Regardless, Berube merits monitoring for fantasy GMs if not high short-term expectations. After all, if Greiss keeps pitching shutouts he’s going to be tough to replace between the pipes. 

* * *

Speaking of a young puck-stopper getting an NHL start today, Pheonix Copley was called up Friday by the Blues from the AHL’s Chicago Wolves and is the St. Louis backstop today in Winnipeg.

Why not?

Jake Allen, anointed the St. Louis starter when the Blues traded Brian Elliott to Calgary, has been sieve-like recently. Reeling mentally, Allen surrendered four goals on just 10 Washington shots Thursday in a 7-3 drubbing and was yanked by head coach Ken Hitchcock for the third consecutive time and the fourth time in six games.

To pile onto his humiliation, Allen