Barry Trotz on Josh Ho-Sang: ‘He was one of our better players’

Darcy Kuemper makes a big pad save but the Islanders keep the pressure coming and Josh Ho-Sang fires home a bullet one-timer from a near impossible angle.

One of the more polarizing prospects in all of hockey, New York Islanders forward Josh Ho-Sang was called up to the NHL on Dec. 9 and fans of the team eagerly awaited the season debut of an exciting player with undeniable natural talent.

It took nearly a week after being recalled, but Ho-Sang got into the lineup on Dec. 15 and 17 against Detroit and Colorado, playing a little more than 12 minutes both games and being held off the scoresheet.

On Tuesday, he got his first NHL point since Dec. 4, 2017.

“It feels really good to score again and just get that good feeling,” Ho-Sang said after the game.

Picked 28th overall in the 2014 draft, Ho-Sang has played 21 and 22 NHL games over the past two seasons, but most of his time has been spent with AHL Bridgeport. This season he had two goals and 20 assists in 26 games to lead his team in scoring prior to the call-up.

But the reason Ho-Sang hasn’t stuck in the NHL has had more to do with the defensive side to his game. After he was made a healthy scratch in an AHL game last January, head coach Brent Thompson said the decision was made because Ho-Sang needed to bring more consistency and be smarter with and without the puck — being better defensively and turning over the puck less often.

Playing on a line with Valtteri Filppula and Leo Komarov Tuesday, Ho-Sang said all the right things post-game about how his veteran linemates were helping him be better at the little things.

“They’re really good at guiding me through the game, the things I’m doing right the things I could do better,” Ho-Sang said. “Leo’s been great in terms of helping me out in the D-zone and telling me before the shift we gotta get the puck out, gotta make good plays. And he’s always there to correct me when I’m a little bit out of position and that goes a long way.”

Ho-Sang played a season-high 15:06 and scored a game-tying goal with a little less than three minutes left in the first period. You could see the elation on his face.

But more importantly, perhaps, is that Islanders head coach Barry Trotz had a glowing review of Ho-Sang’s game.

“Since he’s come up he’s really playing the right way and you can see he’s got real good hockey sense and he’s got the speed and the skill,” Trotz said. “But if he’s playing the way he is — [it’s] going to be hard to send him anywhere if he continues to do that.

“I gotta give him credit, I thought he was one of our better players today.”

Ho-Sang finished the 3-1 Islanders win with one shot on goal, a plus-1 rating and even saw 38 seconds of power-play time. The Islanders visit Vegas and Dallas before taking a holiday break from Dec. 24-27.

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