Mathew Barzal’s Defensive Improvements Helping Islanders Win Games

Some may think Mathew Barzal was as happy as could be after he propelled the Islanders to a 4-3 OT win against the New Jersey Devils Friday evening.

Others, like New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz, beg to differ. Trotz was asked if he was excited when Barzal was on the ice during overtime, and his response was priceless.

“Depends. With the puck or without it?”

Seeing Trotz remain tough on his young star is something to admire. Trotz wants Barzal to be a good two way forward, similar to how he converted and convinced Washington Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin to buy into his system.

Barzal certainly took this comment by Barry Trotz to heart and wanted to improve upon it as quickly as he could. In the Islanders 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night, Barzal was brilliant offensively and defensively.

Barzal worked very hard defensively, blocked a few shots, cleared lanes, and stayed tight on the man he was defending. He also had a stellar defensive play that stopped a 2-on-1 between Carolina’s Calvin de Haan and Victor Rask which prevented a possible goal in front of the net.

Barzal was also terrific offensively last night. He picked up an assist on Anthony Beauvillier’s goal in the first period and created numerous high scoring chances all throughout the night. Barzal is back to shooting the puck a lot more, which was a concern for the second year player at the start of the season.

Barzal has had an incredible two nights, one fueled by a clutch overtime winner and one fueled by a remarkable all around performance. As the Islanders look to improve under Barry Trotz’s new system, it’s very nice to see that even stars like Mathew Barzal show improvements to their game each and every time they’re on the ice.

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