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Editorials

Three reasons Islanders can still win second-round series vs Bruins

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - MAY 18: Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders looks at his stick during the third period in Game Two of the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG PAINTS Arena on May 18, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Penguins won 2-1. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - MAY 18: Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders looks at his stick during the third period in Game Two of the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG PAINTS Arena on May 18, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Penguins won 2-1. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
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New York Islanders
Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Mathew Barzal

Mathew Barzal? I know he only has one goal and a secondary assist in this series to date and he hasn’t always been at his best self since the puck dropped in the second round. But Barzal has been steadily improving and is starting to impassive himself when on the ice.

From a game score perspective, Barzal has slowly improved his game since Game 6 against the Penguins. On the final date against the Pens, Barzal held a -1.30 game score. For those who are new to game score, that number basically states that Barzal’s play cost his team 1.3 goals.

Since Game 6 in round one, Barzal’s game score has been trending in the right direction. From a -0.72 in Game 1 vs the Bruins to +0.61 in Game 2, and +0.77 in Game 3.

(Game score stats from HockeyStatsCards.com)

That certainly follows the eye test. Barzal has progressively asserted himself in this series. He may only have two points in the second round, but with the way he’s playing that will improve.

Having Barzal on his game is a huge relief for this team. While the Islanders are a deep team that can create offense across all four lines, they need their best player to be their best player. When Barzal is on his game he’s near impossible to stop. The Bruins have to respect that and increase their coverage on no.13, which leaves room for someone else to create some offense.

Having Barzal at or even near his best should be a game-changing development for the Islanders.

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