Mathew Barzal earns first All-Star selection after fantastic week
If you haven’t noticed, Mathew Barzal has been on a bit of a hot streak lately. He’s had six goals in his last five games and nine points total.
Barzal’s hot start earned him his first All-Star selection. He’ll be playing with the always great Sidney Crosby, Seth Jones, Braden Holtby. The list goes on and on.
It’s a big honor for the young forward, who adds to his collection of accolades, including a Calder Trophy last season. He is an All-Star because he is so dangerous with or without the puck, and now he’s learned to finally use that great shot of his.
The most impressive game of his young career came less than a week ago when he scored a natural hat trick in just under eight minutes in Toronto. That hat trick led the Islanders to a 4-0 laugher against the mighty Maple Leafs and their assistant captain, John Tavares. The new face of the franchise showed the old one, at least for that day, who was sherriff.
Barzal’s hot streak can be accounted for really for two reasons; One and most obviously, he’s been shooting the puck a lot more. Instead of making the extra pass and trying to do too much with the puck, he’s been loading up and letting his shot rip. It’s obviously paid dividends and is something he will work on for the rest of the season.
The second and more important reason why he’s scoring more is because he’s finally bought into Barry Trotz’s system. It may seem counterintuitive because Trotz has his teams play a very defensive style, but Barzal’s defense has contributed to his offense. He’s getting a lot more odd man rushes because of his forechecking, he’s able to freely shoot because he’s trusting Trotz’s system of firing shots in high danger areas, and because the whole team has bought in, there are more opportunities for everyone in general.
Barzal is an assists machine and is on pace once again for a PPG this season. Now that he’s starting to round out his game with goals he may become a Hart finalist one day. We’ll see how long he can keep this pace up, but it’s encouraging to see him shoot more than he ever has.