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Islanders: Three reasons Game 1 win was more important than you think

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - MAY 16: The New York Islanders celebrate their 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins during overtime in Game One of the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena on May 16, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - MAY 16: The New York Islanders celebrate their 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins during overtime in Game One of the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena on May 16, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
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Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

Mathew Barzal was MIA

Mathew Barzal was one of the worst players out there yesterday according to Game Score stats. The Islanders star finished with a -0.66GS. Only John Marino and Tristan Jarry were worse (-0.94 and -1.59 respectively).

How is this a positive exactly?

Obviously, we’d all rather have Barzal contribute and be a productive player on the ice. But when it comes to the playoffs, relying on Barzal to carry the team through the postseason is a problem. Teams will double up on him to shut him down. You can imagine how problematic that is if the Islanders need him to win.

Yesterday, the Islander’s depth showed that even if the Penguins take Mathew Barzal out of the game they can still win.

Which could very well force the Penguins to shift some of the attention away from Barzal and towards that third line of Pageau, Palmieri and, Wahlstrom that won the game on Sunday.

Maybe that means Barzal doesn’t see so much of Letang, Matheson, Blueger in Game 2 or in this series. That in-and-of-itself would be a good thing, but even if that doesn’t happen, the Isles clearly showed that they aren’t some one-trick pony that relies on a single star player.

And look, you probably already knew that, but it’s good to see it confirmed on the ice.

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