Islanders: Five key players that need to step up vs Florida Panthers

By Matt Hawkins
Nick Leddy #2 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Nick Leddy #2 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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New York Islanders
Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Pick Analysis. Center. 4. Scouting Report. New York Islanders. Mathew Barzal. 106

Mat Barzal is the Isles’ best and most skilled player. In 2019-20, he lead the team in points (60), assists (41), power-play assists (eight), and average time-on-ice among forwards (20:03). Additionally, he was tied for the team lead in power-play goals (four) and was third on the team in goals with 19.

However, I’m not asking Barzal to step up offensively, I’m asking him to be smarter with the puck.

Barzy turns over the puck way too much. He lead the team in turnovers with 103, that’s 33 more than second-place Scott Mayfield. He too often tries to do too much instead of just getting the puck deep and making the simple play.

Although he gives up the puck at an alarming rate, Barzal sort of makes up for it with how much he causes the other team to turn over the biscuit. He’s an expert at pick-pocketing and had an outstanding 70 takeaways, which lead the team by 32.

Barzal also needs to do better in the faceoff circles. He was absolutely atrocious this season, winning just 41.6% of his faceoffs. Being a center this is inexcusable.

If Barzal can cut down his turnovers, win more faceoffs, and continue to cause his opposition to turnover the puck and produce points, there’s no doubt the Isles will get the better of Florida.