Connect with us

New York Islanders

Islanders need a more disciplined Mathew Barzal in 2021-22



Mathew Barzal of the New York Islanders

There is no question that the most valuable player for the New York Islanders is 24-year old Mathew Barzal.

While he has been an exciting player for New York over the last five seasons, the upcoming year is a rather important one. With his left winger Anders Lee back from a torn ACL and veteran Kyle Palmieri or rookie Oliver Wahlstrom on his right side, Barzal has some weapons to play with,

Weapons that should allow him to be more effective than he was a year ago.

Anthony Beauvillier, Casey Cizikas Looking to Take Care of ‘Unfinished Business’

But that will only happen if Mathew Barzal can stay on the ice. And that requires him to stay out of the penalty box and not to take as many unnecessary penalties. 

A trend developed last season, one which Barzal will need to reverse if he is going to get the most out of his minutes.

It is easy to determine why the number was so high last season. Right? The offensively challenged Leo Komarov slotted into Lee’s spot, and Jordan Eberle struggled to produce.

The struggles of both Barzal’s wingers allowed opposing defensemen to hone in on the talented center, even double-teaming him at times, which led to the Islanders star taking penalties out of frustration.

Barzal recorded 30 penalty minutes in the first 27 games. At the time Lee was still healthy and playing alongside Barzal before suffering the season-ending injury in March.

In the 29 games that followed, Barzal took another 18 minutes of penalty time. Over that span, he had one game in which he took more than one penalty.

He had been booked for two or more penalties a total of four times — with a career-high 10 penalty minutes on January 28. — in the 27 games prior.

To sum things up, Barzal averaged 1.11 PIM per game before Lee’s injury and only 0.62 PIM following it.

While the Islanders were able to sneak their way into the postseason for a second straight season despite mediocrity, Barzal still struggled to stay out of the box then too. He recorded 19 PIM in 19 games, none more critical than his late-game decision in Game 5 of the semifinals against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Barzal cross-checked Jan Rutta leading to an ejection, but was lucky enough not to face suspension for the infraction.

Before Anthony Beauvillier forced a Game 7 with his overtime dagger for one of the most memorable postseason games at the historical Nassau Coliseum, Barzal had two critical primary assists. His plays allowed the Islanders to dig out of their 2-0 hole, and if he was not in the lineup, there would have been a strong chance that the series ended at six games.

The Islanders caught a break with the NHL Department of Player Saftey’s inconsistency in handing out supplementary discipline. Barzal’s lack of discipline could have severely impacted the Islanders’ fate.

Trotz did not hesitate to sit Barzal when he made critical mistakes that hurt his team during the regular season. However, if the Islanders want to win Barzal needs to be on the ice.

If Mathew Barzal can find a way to stay disciplined in 2021-22, the sky is the limit and it puts the Islanders in a better position for success.

Welcome to your new home for New York Islanders breaking news, analysis and opinion. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and don't forget to subscribe to NYHN+ for all of our members-only content from Christian Arnold and the National Hockey Now network.


Enter your email address to get all of our articles delivered directly to your inbox.

NYI Team & Cap Info

Recent Comments

Get the best of NYI Hockey Now in your inbox

Sign-up and get all of the best Islanders breaking news and analysis sent straight to your inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.