Setting Up Barzal
For years John Tavares has been the present and future of the New York Islanders. Until Mathew Barzal made the Islanders this season. We knew Barzal would be good, but not this good.
Through 2017-18 Mathew Barzal put up a Calder Trophy-winning season with 85 points in 82 games played. He didn’t actually win the Calder yet but he will, there’s no doubt about it.
Ideally, we want to keep both Tavares and Barzal on the team, but if Tavares leaves we know we at least have Barzal.
If that’s the case we can look to the season as a whole as some sort of metaphorical passing of the torch. But I like to see that happen on the score sheet. When you can see the present literally pass to the future.
Because Barzal and Tavares don’t play on the same line it took a while for that to happen. Tavares didn’t assist on a Mathew Barzal goal until December 5th against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The pass from Tavares wasn’t much. he just tipped it off to Barzal who went streaking into the Lightning end on a power play. Barzal still had a ton of work to do. But with his speed, he was able to create some space and separation to get a chance on Andrei Vasilevskiy and bury it.
The pass from Tavares was the best example of: “go and do your thing kid, you got this” that I’ve ever seen. The pass was so passive that it should barely count as an assist. Barzal did everything on that goal. Tavares had absolute faith that Barzal could get something done. And that’s the importance here.