NY Islanders News

Islanders Need a More Stable Answer on Mat Barzal's Right Wing

By Matt O'Leary
Jan 21, 2022; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) sets for a
Jan 21, 2022; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) sets for a / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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The New York Islanders have two-thirds of a functioning top line. Anders Lee and Mathew Barzal is a good start to having a good top line but the problem is the rotation of guys who have been on the other side.

Most recently, Austin Czarnik got a chance to play up and while I think Austin Czarnik has played well in his chances, he is what he is. A 13th forward or bottom six rotational guy. He shouldn't be up top with Mat Barzal.

In addition to Czarnik, Kyle Palmieri, Kieffer Bellows, Zach Parise, and Josh Bailey have also seen time up on the top line with Anders Lee and Mathew Barzal. Yes, COVID and injuries have played a factor in the Islanders decisions but Barzal deserves a more set lineup right?

I mean the never ending rotation of wingers game has gone on forever with this team. Whether it was John Tavares or now Mathew Barzal, outside of stapling Anders Lee there, which I have zero issue with, they don't have an answer.

From the rooftops I'm yelling for Oliver Wahlstrom.

Wahlstrom was a healthy scratch last night, which as Mitch covered yesterday is fairly controversial. I love Barry Trotz and think he's done a phenomenal job with this team but it's okay to admit that this one is a head scratcher.

Wahlstrom is third on the team in goals, and as everyone is so painfully aware of this team struggles to get pucks in the back of the net. Plus Wahlstrom's assist numbers have gone up too. He has 16 points (8 goals, 8 assists) on the season.

Now sure, right before the benching Wahlstrom had just one point in his last five games but he had 20 shots on goal over that stretch. If the Islanders can put someone up there who peppers the net and is frankly, the best shooting forward on this team then I think that's the way to do it.

I get it, Wahlstrom is still raw and he's not all the way finished developing so Barry Trotz is trying to shelter him but the seemingly endless rotation of middle or bottom six wingers on the top line has to stop.

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