Connect with us

New York Islanders

With Contract Signed, Barzal, Islanders Look to Take Next Step

Published

on

Mathew Barzal

Mathew Barzal was flying on the ice in his first scrimmage, and practice for that matter, with his New York Islanders teammates on Saturday morning.

It was a good first sign for Islanders coach Barry Trotz to see the talented forward off to such a good start. Still, the Islanders bench boss cautioned it would still take some time to fully catch up to where everyone had been.

Support full-time coverage of the New York Islanders by subscribing to NYI Hockey Now

“He just needs to continue to get touches and obviously he was excited today,” Trotz said on Saturday, while affirming he believed Barzal would be ready for the season opener. “There was a lot of grind. There was a lot of special teams, so that plays right into what he does. He’s such a good skater, so it’s not really the skating part, it will be when you get into live bullets.

“He will get more and more of the game sort of type action.”

The Islanders will scrimmage on Sunday, which will mark just four days until the team hits the ice for real at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night against the New York Rangers. There will be plenty of eyes on the Islanders this year and even more so on Mathew Barzal, who was described by Anders Lee on Saturday as the team’s “cornerstone player.”

For the star forward, the approach won’t change this season. Barzal wants to play consistently and be the impact player he has been in the past.

“I know consistency is a huge thing and there are no nights off,” Barzal said. “I’m really going to make that a key in my next three years. Just to really be consistent and just work hard to move my feet at all times. I think for the team, the same things goes. We were close last year and we had a taste of how close we can get to playing in a Stanley Cup Final. It didn’t sit well with us afterward.

“We’re all just excited to get back into that competitive atmosphere.”

The transition for Mathew Barzal to get back into game shape shouldn’t be too hard. Despite not skating with his teammates over the past week, he has been training on the ice with Johnny Boychuk, Tom Kuhnhackl and Dennis Seidenberg.

More than anything, Trotz wants to see Barzal’s game continue to grow. His offensive skillset is no secret to anyone and Trotz would like to see the other aspects become stronger as well.

On Friday, Trotz said his goal wasn’t to turn Barzal into a Selke candidate, but he wanted to make him more of a complete player. The Islanders head coach expanded on that on Saturday.

“My goal is to make Mathew Barzal the best player he can possibly be and that’s on both sides of the puck,” Trotz said. “I can’t do and teach some of the stuff that he’s capable of. At the same time hopefully, I can help him from the standpoint of a team concept offensively and defensively. How he can have the puck more. Be more productive and be an even more important player than he already is for us.”

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.
2 Comments
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
2 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

[…] After signing a three-year deal on Saturday, Mat Barzal looks to grow as a player. Head coach Barry Trotz wants to help him grow, not just on the offensive side of the puck, but on the defensive side of the puck as well. (NYI Hockey Now) […]

[…] The report came after the Islanders signed their most important restricted free agent on Saturday, Mathew Barzal. […]

New York Islanders

Young blood: Noah Dobson making strides at blue line for Islanders

Published

on

Noah Dobson

When the New York Islanders traded defenseman Devon Toews in the lead-up to the season, it almost inevitably gave Noah Dobson a more prominent role on the teams defensive corps.

When Johnny Boychuk announced his career was over, it thrust Dobson into an important role.

So far, the 21-year-old has held his own and has been a key contributor to the defense.

In four games, Dobson’s recorded three assists — half his point total from 34 regular-season games last year. More than the point production, though, the Prince Edward Island native has seen a significant uptick in his ice time.

Coach Boychuk? Former Defenseman Helps Coaches During Islanders Practice

Already this year, he’s averaging over 18 minutes per game, which is five minutes more than he was during his rookie season. But he’s also been a key piece on the power play, generating two of his three points on the extra-man unit.

After Thursday’s win over the New Jersey Devils, head coach Barry Trotz said Dobson had put in extra work to have a more visible offensive side. Dobson had drawn rave reviews in the QMJHL for his stay-at-home defensive play, but has added a little more of an aggressive offensive dimension this year. That was especially noticeable on the power play against New Jersey when he came into the slot for a shot attempt that went wide but set up Jordan Eberle’s second goal of the game.

“He’s been putting extra time in and some work on the power play as well as 5-on-5,” Trotz said. “I just think that the more he plays, the more comfortable that he gets, the more confidence he gets the better it is for us and better it is for him. I thought he’s responded well from the Ranger game, hopefully, he continues to grow.”

In the aforementioned Rangers game, Noah Dobson took a penalty and was a minus-2 in what was a sloppy 5-0 loss for the Islanders. But after two points and a season-high 20:24 of ice time against New Jersey, Dobson quickly recovered.

Defensively, he’s blocked 12 shots and worked with veteran Andy Greene, though he pair has been toward the bottom for the Islanders in terms of possession. According to Natural Stat Trick, the two have a 35.90 Corsi For percentage in over 40 minutes of ice time at 5-on-5 together. Yes, it’s a small sample size, but that’s a number the Islanders would like to see rise significantly. Right now, it’s the worst pair on the team that’s played any significant minutes this year.

Noah Dobson Natural Stat Trick

Some of Noah Dobson’s stats from the 2020-21 season.

But the good news for Dobson, outside of playing with Greene, he has a CF percentage of 58.33 in a little over 13 minutes of ice time with other partners.

When the Islanders dealt Toews to the Colorado Avalanche, they lost a player who could move the puck and chip in significant time on the power play. While it might be unfair to slip Dobson right into the Toews-sized hole left on defense and power play, he can at least remain a decent contributor in facilitating offense and helping the man advantage.

And so far he has, recording over 2:30 minutes of power-play time in each of the four games this year. As the year goes on, Dobson expects to continue to grow and have that experience benefit him.

“I think confidence is a huge thing, I think the more games you play the more comfortable you feel,” Noah Dobson said Thursday. “Every game I’m getting more comfortable, more confident. I think there’s more opportunities to jump up into the play.”

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.
Continue Reading

New York Islanders

Coach Boychuk? Former Defenseman Helps Coaches During Islanders Practice

Published

on

Johnny Boychuk

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. — There was a familiar face on the ice at Northwell Ice Center. Johnny Boychuk helped out the New York Islanders coaching staff during Saturday’s practice as the team prepared for Sunday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.

Boychuk ended his 13 year NHL career in November due to an eye injury and was placed on LTIR at the start of this season. Saturday was not Boychuk’s first time on the ice for practice, having worked with the taxi squad players and he had been on the ice at times during training camp.

Boychuk has been seen around the organization publically several times this week. On Monday, the MSG broadcast caught Boychuk sitting next to Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello in a suite at Nassau Coliseum.

His continued presence around the Islanders organization has been a welcomed one by the rest of the team.

“It’s great for us. We love Johnny,” Josh Bailey said after practice. “We’ll take him as much as we can get him. It would have been tough to just more or less go cold turkey and not see him. He’s been such a big part of our dressing room for a long time. To get to have him out on the ice with us and to see him on a daily basis has been really great.”

Additionally, Boychuk had been skating with Mathew Barzal while he and the team sorted out his new contract the first week of training camp.


Josh Bailey became the first Islander to deal head-on with a COVID-related issue this season.

The veteran forward missed a day of practice this week and was briefly on the COVID-protocol list before returning to the lineup the following day. Bailey, along with the rest of the team, has been adhering to the COVID protocols, but potentially came into contact with the virus after his youngest son’s teacher tested positive for COVID-19.

A few days later when Bailey went to check on his son he noticed that he sounded a little sick and had a bit of a cough, the Islanders forward said. They had him tested and it came back positive for the virus.

The result ended up being a false positive and Bailey’s son tested negative twice over the following two days.

“For a couple of days there it was touch and go, but at the same time it all worked out,” Bailey said.

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.
Continue Reading

New York Islanders

BACK AT THE BARN: What It Was Like Being at an Empty Nassau Coliseum for a Game

Published

on

The New York Islanders home rink of Nassau Coliseum

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Prior to this week, the last time the New York Islanders had stepped foot on Nassau Coliseum ice was March 7, 2020. While it was only 10 months ago, in retrospect it seems like a lifetime ago.

COVID-19 had only just started to creep into the sports universe. What would transpire a week later wasn’t even imaginable at the time. So there was a sense of familiarity and brief normalcy when I walked into the Coliseum on Monday afternoon for the Islanders home opener against the Boston Bruins.

under normal circumstances, in January I am usually fully engulfed in the Islanders season. Weekends are planned around game and practice coverage, or that odd trip on the road with the Islanders. Instead, the first few months of the traditional hockey season were spent wondering if there would even be hockey games to cover at all.

To say I was looking forward to being at Monday’s game would be an understatement.

Nassau Coliseum exterior Walking into the Nassau Coliseum you were quickly reminded of the current state of the world. Signs about the need to wear a mask at all times inside the building were everywhere, as were Purell hand sanitizing stations. Security checked our temperature at the door and media members and staff entering had to fill out a COVID-19 questionnaire.

It’s a similar procedure for those of us that attend Islanders practices in person, so it had become a sort of second nature.

What was the most jarring thing on Monday was the quiet of the arena. Those of us covering games aren’t allowed into the Coliseum until an hour before game time, which would mean during normal times that the concourse would be bustling with fans and vendors selling overpriced beer and pretzels.

You would move at a snail’s pace trying to walk from the media gate to the press box elevators. Instead, it was a brisk walk onto the concourse and into the inner bowl where they have us set up to watch the games from. If there is any silver lining, then it’s the fact that we’re down a bit lower than where the Coliseum press box is, but I still enjoy watching from above to see how plays develop and get a different angle on the game.

The Islanders tried to keep the game presentation the same as they would if the building had been packed with fans. They blasted the music during warmups and during a stoppage of play — albeit at noticeably lower decibel than previously — pump-up videos were on the video board and goals and penalties were announced by the public address announcer.

Cardboard fans

And they pumped in crowd noise, which wasn’t all that bad and helped keep some figment of a normal game experience. When the Islanders faced the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, the volume of the crowd noise did not go over so well, but Monday on Long Island, it was done just right.

In fact, on Thursday during the Islanders 4-1 win over New Jersey, the fake crowd noise was almost nonexistent.

To that end, what was the oddest part of the whole experience so far was the emptiness of the Nassau Coliseum. Sure, people have their jokes about how empty the building has been in years past when the team wasn’t doing well, but at its best, the Coliseum is one of the toughest places to play in the NHL

In large part due to the fans that inhabit it. Adjusting to the calm and quiet, except for the music and fake noise, was something that took time.

Through all of the oddities, it was good to be back in an NHL rink.

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.
Continue Reading

GET NYIHN IN YOUR INBOX!

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

Be the first to know! Enter your email to get all of our articles sent straight to your inbox, the minute they're published.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.