Is it time to sit Mat Barzal down for a game?
This may sound crazy, but I really think it’s time for Mathew Barzal to spend a night in the press box. Barzal’s stats have looked good with three goals and eighteen assists in 26 games, but you can tell the young superstar is trying to do too much out there.
Call it a sophomore slump, call it the yips, call it whatever you want but this is not the same dynamic forward that broke through last season. Sure he’s had his moments, including that overtime breakaway winner against the New Jersey Devils. But overall, Barzal just isn’t playing smart hockey.
There are a few examples that show that Barzal just has something missing from his game, whether it be confidence or something else. The two shining examples are the holding the stick penalty he took Tuesday night that completely changed the momentum of the Winnipeg game, and the multiple times he’s been sat at the end of tight games.
Barzal’s penalty on Tuesday literally cost the Islanders the game against the Jets. They had just taken a 1-0 lead when Barzal was doing his normal loop around the offensive zone thing when he was caught holding the stick of a Winnipeg Jet. Jacob Trouba scored on that ensuing PP, the Jets scored again 22 seconds later, and the Islanders wound up losing the game 3-1.
Barzal has been held out of multiple ends of games due to his risky passing and dangerous stick handling. Even when the Islanders won against the Devils, Head Coach Barry Trotz still was furious with Barzal’s play in overtime. All those dangerous passes through the slots, missed opportunities to shoot, and skittish possession make the coach crazy.
Will a seat in the press box for the worst thing for Barzal? Who knows. Realistically it’s not a great move on paper because Barzal is by far the most dynamic player on the Islanders. However, maybe a game or two will set Barzal straight, get him on the right track, and get him back to the player he was just a year ago. It’s not like he’s been terrible, but his stats have been pretty deceiving.
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