Should Islanders remove the defensive leash from Mathew Barzal?
The New York Islanders are in desperate need of some sort of offense. They haven't scored more than two goals in a game since a 6-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on November 4th. In the nine games that followed the six-goal outburst at the start of the month, the Isles have scored nine goals.
One goal per game (on average) is horrendous for an NHL team. There's no wonder the Islanders have gone 1-8-0 in those nine games since the win over the Habs. So to get some offense going why not take off or loosen the defense leash around Mathew Barzal?
New York Islanders should remove defensive leash from Mathew Barzal
I understand that Barry Trotz has his system and that everyone needs to play a full 200-foot game. And Barzal has bought into that system big. He's done so since day one of the Barry Trotz era. And that has brought him a lot of success.
But things have to change right now. The Islanders are desperate for some offense. So why not let the team's best offensive weapon do what he does best?
Of course that might necessitate providing him with some higher quality linemates. Or maybe just some of the guys that are already here?
In his rookie/Calder-trophy-winning season, Barzal spent most of his 5on5 time with Jordan Eberle and Anthony Beauvillier. One of those guys is still here (Beau). Why not lineup Mathew Barzal with Anthony Beauvillier and, say, Oliver Wahlstrom with the idea that they generate as much offense as possible.
That probably wouldn't be a great defensive line. Although it's not like Barzal (or Beauvillier) is suddenly going to forget how to play defense. So it's not as if a new deployment of sorts will turn him and his line into a defensive black-hole. The idea is to generate more offense and this line would certainly do so.
The Islanders can still play three defensive first lines to counter the first lines' change in priorities. At this point of the season, the Islanders have to try something different. This might be that something.