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Islanders: Matt Martin teaches Mathew Barzal how to fight

TORONTO, ONTARIO - AUGUST 29: Matt Martin #17 of the New York Islanders is congratulated by his teammate, Mathew Barzal, after scoring a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on August 29, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - AUGUST 29: Matt Martin #17 of the New York Islanders is congratulated by his teammate, Mathew Barzal, after scoring a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on August 29, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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We’ve seen this before, a skilled player asking an enforcer to teach the former a few tricks of the latter’s trade. New York Rangers Ryan Reaves was seen showing Vitali Kravtsov a few points during the Rangers training camp earlier this year. Now, New York Islanders fans got their own version of that dynamic.

During Thursday’s practice, Matt Martin and Mathew Barzal were seen locking up. It wasn’t necessarily a lesson in how to strike, but more about grappling and how to get a positional advantage in any sort of fight.

New York Islanders Matt Martin gives Mat Barzal lesson in fighting

See the video here. Again, it’s clear that what Matt Martin is trying to teach the other Mat is how to hold to an opponent’s jersey and pin him to the boards if, God forbid, the Isles top-line center ever gets into a fight.

And this isn’t just any enforce we’re talking about, Matt Martin is a well-respected tough guy who’s squared off more than 90 times in the NHL. According to Hockey Fights voting system, Martin has won nearly three-quarters of his NHL fights.

He’s only lost to four people more than once:

  • Zdeno Chara (3 losses)
  • Adam McQuaid (3 losses)
  • Tanner Glass (2 losses)
  • Stu Bickel (2 losses)

So if Mathew Barzal is going to learn the art of fighting (or at least the art of grappling) there are very few better teachers than Matt Martin. And with Zdeno Chara and Ross Johnston on the roster, Barzal is really spoiled for choice in this department.

Ideally, Barzal never has to use what Martin is teaching him. Again, he’s got a number of guys who are much better at that side of the sport than he is. But when things get heated and everyone on the ice is locking up with a dance partner, it’s probably an OK idea that Barzal at least knows the basic steps.

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