New York Islanders forward Mathew Barzal was feeling better and was back at practice on Monday, and that's before he learned he was named one of the NHL's three stars of the week. Barzal, who played two games last week, was named the league's second-star after registering seven points (2G, 5A) in games against the New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes.
Barzal was held out of Saturday night's 4-3 win in Florida, but was back on the ice and a full participant at practice on Monday at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow. Through 22 games this season, Barzal leads the team in points (23) and is tied with Noah Dobson for the team lead in assists with 16. He also, perhaps surprisingly, leads the NHL with 34 takeaways.
“Defensively, I feel like I’m enjoying forechecking and trying to strip guys and be crafty,” Barzal said in AMNY. “That’s not something I necessarily liked to do in the past but I feel like I’m finding joy and I’m finding fun in doing that kind of stuff… I’m finding excitement in wanting to be a good checker. My mentality is trying to add a little more [Casey Cizikas] to my game.”
Dobson and Nelson Miss Practice
The Islanders host the San Jose Sharks at UBS Arena tomorrow night and as of this morning, it was uncertain whether Brock Nelson or Dobson would be available as each missed practice in what was described as a "maintenance day."
The news isn't too surprising for Nelson after he left the game against the Panthers in the second-period which originally appeared to be a potential bad knee injury. He came back for the third period and was able to make all of his shifts. Meanwhile, Dobson logged over 25 minutes yet again on Saturday night and might have needed the extra time off, even for his young 23-year-old legs.