Stats: 1A, 6SOG
Thankfully, the Islanders have been winning despite getting next to no production from their top player in Mathew Barzal. With a single assist over these three games, Barzal has been essentially ineffective in this series.
And it’s not as if Barzal is a bit snake-bitten or that things will turn because he has good underlying numbers. When you look at some of those underlying numbers (like expected goals, scoring chances, and high danger chances), there’s nothing to suggest that he’s doing enough on the ice.
Barzal ranks in the bottom half of Islanders skaters for xGF% (10th), SCF% (10th), and HDCF% (14th). All at 5on5. All rankings are based on the Isles 19 skaters used in this series so far.
A tight-checking Florida defensive scheme is limiting the ice Mathew Barzal needs to create and is taking away just about any passing lane he’s used to.
As the team’s top forward this is to be expected. Teams are, rightfully, going to target him from here on out. As a defensive first team with little in the way of top-tier talent outside of Barzal, shutting him down should effectively kill the Islanders offense.
Again, the Islanders are still winning without him thanks to contributions from Anthony Beauvillier and Jean-Gabriel Pageau. But when both have an off day, and they certainly will, the team’s top players like Barzal need to step up.
The Islanders can likely pull out one more game and eliminate the Panthers without the usual impact Mathew Barzal brings. But that won’t hold the further the Islanders get in the postseason. If the Isles have any hope of advancing beyond the first round of the playoffs they need Mathew Barzal to be at his very best.