Mathew Barzal is a sure lock to win the Calder Trophy for his play in his first year with the New York Islanders, but there’s one thing he must work on.
The New York Islanders got their money’s worth when it came to Mathew Barzal. In his rookie year, Mathew Barzal put up 85 points (22 goals, 63 assists) exceeding all expectations, and all but locking up that Calder Trophy.
He’s an immense talent, I just want to get that out there before we start this criticism, which isn’t meant as an attack, just something to open our eyes to and hope he improves on.
By me pointing out this one flaw in his game it by no means indicates that I’m a Barzal hater, that’s probably the furthest thing from the truth. No player is perfect, Barzal certainly, like everyone else, has their areas of struggles.
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For Barzal, one area he did not do well was the faceoff circle. As a center, a part of your job is to take faceoffs and hopefully more often than not win them. You want to be over 50 percent, similar to Corsi numbers, meaning you win more faceoffs than lose which of course is the goal.
Of centers who played 60 or more games, Barzal ranks 138 out of 156. He won just 42.6 percent of his faceoffs this past year.
Cizikas lead the Islanders centers with a 53.1 percent, while Tavares wasn’t too far behind with a 52.9 percent. Even Brock Nelson, who only won 48.3 percent of his faceoffs was ahead of Matty B on the season.
This doesn’t warrant a panic. In John Tavares’ rookie season, he had a sub-50 faceoff percentage. It was a 47.5 that year, and only two more times since his rookie year has it dipped under 50 percent, never lower than 49.1.
Barzal isn’t the only big name that far down on the list. Jonathan Drouin, Nathan MacKinnon, Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid all had lower faceoff percentages than Barzal did this past year.
If Barzy wants to be a more complete player, faceoff percentage will be one of the areas he looks to improve in 2018-2019. If he’s unable to and continues to have low faceoff percentage numbers the Isles can still get by.
John Tavares and Casey Cizikias are talented enough faceoff guys and if they added a Tyler Bozak like player for the third line in free agency for the third line, he had a 53.6 faceoff percentage, then the Isles will be in fantastic shape in that category.