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Islanders: Watch Mat Barzal Show Off His Stick-Handling

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - JUNE 17: Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders skates with the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period in Game Three of the Stanley Cup Semifinals during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Coliseum on June 17, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - JUNE 17: Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders skates with the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period in Game Three of the Stanley Cup Semifinals during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Coliseum on June 17, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Mathew Barzal is truly a special talent. If you follow the New York Islanders closely, you know this already and you don’t need any more convincing. Yet, when that convincing is there for you why not just enjoy it?

Today, the NHL Network put out a segment on Mathew Barzal and how he improves his stick-handling range. It’s truly a work of art that everyone should have the pleasure of seeing it.

What Barzal brings up in this conversation is interesting. Instead of keeping the pucks close together and going through slow in this drill, he expresses the need for the drill to be quicker and to spread the pucks out.

As he says, hockey is a fast game, and the ability to add in a head fake as well when you separate the pucks adds for an extra element. What this allows is for him to go wider with his fakes instead of keeping it so in tight.

It’s why you see so many excellent defensemen seem lost when they are in the vicinity of Barzal. It’s not an easy thing, and it clearly takes hours and hours of practice but if you’re someone who is looking to improve their stickhandling this is the drill for you.

This skill set allows him to do things in-game that most people can’t. Like this for example:

I mean this doesn’t happen very often at the NHL level. It’s rare to find someone with the skating and puck handling ability that Barzal has. That’s why he’s so effective at carrying the puck into the zone.

He’s elite at it, and it’s one of the reasons why he’s considered an elite guy in this game. Hopefully, we see more of this in 2021, and if you’ll excuse me I’m going to try this drill and probably fall on my face in the process.

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