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Islanders: Three keys to getting Mathew Barzal back on track

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 14: Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders skates against the New York Rangers during the third period at Madison Square Garden on January 14, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 14: Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders skates against the New York Rangers during the third period at Madison Square Garden on January 14, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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New York Islanders
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK – JANUARY 21: Head coach Barry Trotz of the New York Islanders handle bench duties against the New Jersey Devils at Nassau Coliseum on January 21, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Play the Barry Way (More)

You’ll probably say: “isn’t he already doing that?” Looking at his stats certainly tells you he is. After winning a Calder Trophy in 2017-18 with 85 points in 82 Barzal has dropped to the 60 point range. This year is essentially the same. He’s on pace for 67 point.

But there’s certainly more that he can do. Specifically, getting the puck in deep when he doesn’t have a better option. That type of play was painfully clear against the Caps on Saturday.

Watch how on Sprong’s goal Barzal gains the red line but doubles back when he realizes his lane to the O-zone is blocked. A turnover is created and the puck is in the back of the net.

That type of play happens at least a few times per game. If it’s not in the neutral zone, then it happens in the O-zone when two defenders collapse on his and take away his time and space. A play that almost always results in a turnover and the loss of possession.

The better play is to get deep in the O-zone for a winger to retrieve.

I know this fix doesn’t equate to more production. But Barzal the ‘fix’ for Barzal might just be getting back to basics. Do the simple things well and do as Oliver Wahlstrom would say at the start of the year: “fall in love with your entire game”.

Doing that should yield more.

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