Islanders: Mathew Barzal 2021 Season Grade
By Matt O'Leary
Mathew Barzal was coming off a solid bubble for the New York Islanders heading into the 2021 season. Expectations were high for him as he had 17 points (5 goals, 12 assists) in 22 playoff games.
But 2021 was a streaky year for Mat Barzal. He started off strong, as the top-line of Anders Lee – Mat Barzal – Jordan Eberle was solid for the first half of the season before the injury to Lee.
There was a 10 game stretch between the end of February and early March, right when Lee went down, where Barzal was held without a goal. With the amount that the Isles rely on Barzal, that’s just not nearly enough goal production.
On the regular season, Barzy would finish with 45 points (17 goals, 28 assists). That paces him out to a 67 point (25 goals, 42 assists) season. It’s good production, but it’s not really franchise-defining talent production. Is that too nitpicky?
His advanced numbers were pretty solid, 53.4 CF%, 62.03 GF%, 60.66 HDCF%, and a 63.46 HDGF% according to Natural Stat Trick. I just felt like he left something a little bit more to be desired.
Also, penalties were a clear issue for him this year. He had more penalty minutes than points during the regular season with 48 to 45. For the record, his career-high in penalties in a season was 46 back in 2018-2019 and he surpassed that total in just 55 games.
In the playoffs, it took Barzal a while to get going. He didn’t score a goal until Game 3 of the Boston series. But once he got going, he was good. In the final 11 playoff games, he had 10 points (6 goals, 4 assists).
The highlight of the season came on this beauty of a goal in March from Mat Barzal. This is the kind of talent that he can put on display and these jaw-dropping highlight-reel plays are why he’s beloved around the league.
Heading into next season, Barzal needs some more consistency. Getting Anders Lee back should help that but he can’t be as streaky of a goal scorer and he desperately needs to cut down the penalty minutes.
Final Grade: B