When we spoke with New York Islanders forward Mathew Barzal following the conclusion of the 2021-22 season, I asked how much Zach Parise meant to him after Parise’s first season on Long Island.
“I love Zach,” Mat Barzal shared. “Really fun chemistry with him and give and goes and finding where he’s going to be at. He knows where I’m going to be at, so I think that goes a long way.”
“I think you know even with me, him, and Palmieri the last five-six games, I think that’s something to look forward to next year.”
Well, it’s next season, and it seems like Mathew Barzal’s bond with Zach Parise has grown even stronger. Their lockers at their practice facility at Northwell Health Ice Rink are beside each other. There always chatting on the ice and in the room.
And they have been a staple alongside one another through the first seven days of training camp, playing with one another in the first preseason game against the New York Rangers back on Monday.
What about these two allows them to work so well together?
In an exclusive interview with NYI Hockey Now, Mathew Barzal and Zach Parise spoke about their chemistry and why they seem to have success together.
“He wants to score, so I think that’s a mindset that I like to play with,” Mathew Barzal said. “I feel like he’s good at playing give-and-go, and he’s obviously been, you know, the best player on his team for a number of years with the Devils, so he’s got that high-end hockey IQ. He’s always been a really good player. He’s scored at every level. So I think that’s the biggest thing.”
“We both play the game at high speed, which is nice, and just transition quick and making good plays. And I think it’s a nice dynamic because, you know, I want to be the passer, and he wants to be the goal scorer. So it’s, it’s a good dynamic that way.”
For Zach Parise, he thought his chemistry with Barzal last season grew in each game alongside one another.
“I felt like last year we got better and better, and I really liked the way we ended the season. I mean, the guy’s a special player,” Parise said. “You know, for me, you try to get him the puck as much as possible as you’re breaking out through the neutral zone. There’s really not many guys in the league that can enter the zone the way that he can.
“I’m looking for him through the neutral zone, like, he knows I’m looking for him, and then when you get in the zone, it’s about getting yourself open.”
Because of Barzal’s skating and playmaking ability, Parise knows he needs to be ready in the offensive zone.
“He’s got that, that ability to really make all five defenders look at him because he’s that that dynamic, that creative. So if you can find that space, that open space to get a shot, I mean, he’s looking for you, he’s going to find you, and he’s got that ability to just draw three guys to him. And then again, it’s about finding some space and burying the chances.”
Parise, who has played with incredible skaters throughout his NHL career, had glowing remarks for Mathew Barzal and his skills.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. I mean, I’ve played with Kovalchuk in his prime. Played with Elias, Gomez, some awesome, great hockey players. But this guy is different. I’ve never seen skating like that. I’ve never seen edge work like that. And each one of those guys, that’s not a knock on those guys. Those guys are all-stars in this league. And they all bring something different, but I’ve just never seen anything like this.”
New York Islanders head coach Lane Lambert shared why he paired the two together through training camp.
“[They] worked well together. And they worked well together at the end of last year,” Lambert said. “You know, Zach reads off of him, and Zach’s a worker, and, from what we’ve seen in the past, they worked well together.”
On Thursday, Kyle Palmieri was added to their line, a trio that played 100 minutes together a season ago. With a couple of weeks before opening night, that trio very well could be together. And for the people that are against the idea of a 38-year-old in Zach Parise playing with the talent that is Mat Barzal, their games complement each other nicely.
The fan base wanted the Islanders to add a superstar scorer to play with Barzal. But there was no guarantee that whoever was brought in could work well with Barzal.
We know that Zach Parise does, and it’s evident that Lane Lambert trusts him alongside Mat Barzal.