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Islanders: Why isn’t Mathew Barzal scoring like he used to

Jordan Eberle #7 of the New York Islanders is congratulated by teammate Mathew Barzal #13 (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Jordan Eberle #7 of the New York Islanders is congratulated by teammate Mathew Barzal #13 (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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New York Islanders
Barry Trotz of the New York Islanders. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The System

Barry Trotz is a notorious defensive-minded coach. Winning hockey games for Trotz starts with a solid back end. When it comes to offense, Barry’s system is about quality over quantity. That’s a bit reductive of his overall plan, but that’s the elevator pitch version of Barry’s offense.

So has that system hampered Mathew Barzal’s production?

Under Dough Weight, who operated a “run-and-gun” offensive system, Mathew Barzal put up monster numbers with 85 points in 82 games and won the Calder Trophy as the rookie of the year. Is Barzal just better suited to a different system?

That’s certainly possible. But it’s not like a Barry Trotz system is anti-offense. Sure, it prioritizes team defense, but players can still put up big numbers in a Trotz system.

With the Nashville Predators, Jason Arnott had one of his best seasons in the NHL scoring 28 goals and 72 points in 2007-08.

When Trotz coached the Washington Capitals Nicklas Backstrom had one of his best seasons. In 2016-17, Backstrom scored 23 goals and 86 points. Evgeny Kuznetsov became a consistent offensive force under Barry Trotz with a 77 point season and then an 83 point year in 2017-18.

I brought up those three because they played/play center like Barzal. But you can’t forget about Paul Kariya scoring 85 points in 2005-06 for Nashville or Alex Ovechkin scoring 87 points in 2017-18.

The system that Barry Trotz uses may place more importance on defense, but offensive players, like Mathew Barzal, can still flourish.

So if it’s not the system’s fault is it just that Barzal isn’t playing with the increased pressure and attention now that he’s the main focal point of the Islanders offense with John Tavares now gone?

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