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Mathew Barzal’s taking his game to new heights this season

Since signing a three-year, $21 million contract, Mathew Barzal is having the best season of his career.

Through the first 13 games of this season, Barzal has found the back of the net six times, including his power-play goal in the third to put the Islanders in the lead 3-2 over the Boston Bruins during Saturday night’s 4-2 victory. Tallying 14 total points for the season, he is currently on a career-high eight-game point streak with four goals and four assists.

The 23-year-old forward is proving his worth for his new contract.

Head coach Barry Trotz is consistently putting him to the test, and his confidence continues to grow as he improves his style on the ice. According to The Point Hockey, Barzal currently leads the NHL in offensive zone time with the puck per game (1:19).

“Mathew’s one of those guys, the really high skilled guys with that tremendous speed like (Nathan) Mackinnon, (Connor) McDavid. When they give it up and get it back, they’re almost unstoppable.” Trotz said earlier in February, via Arthur Staple of The Athletic. “That’s where Mathew’s game has grown the most. And he’ll still take you on one-on-one. That’s the biggest growth, the offensive stuff without the puck.”

Although Barzal also earned an identical amount of goals through this point last season, the improvement of his game this year is impossible to ignore. It’s something g.m. Lou Lamoriello wanted to see from Barzal when he spoke when the season began.

“What we expect from Mat is to do the things that God has given him with his talent,” Lamoriello said. “Not worry about scoring, but just worrying about both ends of the ice. He has worked at that, been outstanding and made that commitment.”

Combined with a sturdy defense, Barzal is a force that is nearly impossible for any team to stop. During the shootout loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Barzal perfectly executed a goal, sneaking past Pierre-Oliver Joseph and planting the puck past Casey DeSmith. Sitting out for a 1:20 in the overtime allowed the Penguins to draw a couple penalties and eventually a dooming shootout.

As Barzal continues to make his stride off his rookie contract, he still has a lot more to prove. If Trotz keeps allowing him more time on the first line with Lee and Eberle, he should be scoring at least once for every three chances. Furthermore, according to Michel Anderson of Eyes on Isles, his point total through 13 games currently has him on pace to have 22 points more than the next highest-scoring player on the team, Jordan Eberle who is on a 49-point pace.

The Islanders are scheduled to face off against the Buffalo Sabres at 7 p.m., their first game since January 31 after a  COVID-19 outbreak. With Barzal in the hot seat, he is expected to show up big.

As he has already in droves this season.

 

Follow me on Twitter at @daniraemohr

 

 

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About Danielle Mohr

I'm currently a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication studying journalism with an emphasis on reporting as well as sports communication. Please feel free to follow my Twitter: @daniraemohr

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