All year long, fans of the New York Islanders were yelling for the combination of Mathew Barzal and Oliver Wahlstrom. It makes sense though why it was such a popular combination. Barzal is the most gifted offensive forward on the team and the youngster, Oliver Wahlstrom likely has the best shot on the team.
On paper, yes this line deserves a look and I'm not even saying kill it completely just yet. What I am saying is that right now it's very evidently not working.
Both Mathew Barzal and Oliver Wahlstrom have struggled lately. For Oliver Wahlstrom he has been held off the scoresheet in four straight, is a minus-3 and has played a combined 17:12 over his last two games. Clearly, Barry Trotz doesn't like what he is seeing right now from him and its not like the production is indicating that he is playing well like it did earlier on this year.
As for Mathew Barzal, he too has been struggling and like Wahlstrom has been held off the scoresheet for four games in a row. He was a minus-5 against St. Louis on Saturday. I know it's a flawed stat, I'd be the first to tell you that but he was downright brutal on Saturday. Even the advanced numbers will tell you that as he posted the worst game score of the night by a mile. His other linemate, Zach Parise, was also down there with him.
Next year these two have to be better. They also need help from Lou Lamoriello but as individuals they need to perform better in 2022-2023, and I think they'd even admit that.
Mathew Barzal has just 14 goals and 48 points over 62 games. A pace of 63 points isn't going to cut it unfortunately. He still needs to shoot the puck more and be more aggressive. Far too often this year he's gone to the pass first.
For Wahlstrom, he's too talented to give you a 16 goal pace over a full year. He has just three goals and six points over his last 30 games. What happened to the guy who had 10 goals in his first 35 games. Consistency is the next key for him there, Noah Dobson found it this year, for Wahlstrom you hope next year is when it clicks for him.
Down the stretch of the year, when the Islanders were playing better, there were some positives to take away from it. I was hoping the Wahlstrom and Barzal line would be one of them but right now it doesn't feel like that will be the case.