While most NHL players enjoyed their break by either vacationing or relaxing at home, twenty-one year old Mathew Barzal spent his in San Jose for the 2019 NHL All-Star Game. The Islanders young star appeared in his first ever All-Star game, and was a major contributor in the Metropolitan Division’s success.
Mathew Barzal competed in two events d uring the NHL All-Star Skills Competition, the Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater™ and the Ticketmaster NHL Save Streak™. In the fastest skater challenge, Barzal placed third behind Jack Eichel, and the three-time champion Connor McDavid. Barzal clocked in with a time of (13.780), while McDavid had a final score (13.378). The Save Streak challenge was more directed towards the goalies, but that didn’t stop Barzal from stealing the spotlight by scoring a beautiful goal on the Detroit Red Wings Jimmy Howard.
In the All-Star game itself, Mathew Barzal was on the same line as Pittsburgh Penguins’ Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby. In the two games they played together, Barzal had two goals and three assists, and he truly dominated the competition. In the championship game, Barzal scored two goals to help the Metro cruise to a 10-5 win over the Central Division. He was a huge factor towards the Metropolitan tournament win, and was third in All-Star MVP voting with 19% of the votes. Sidney Crosby was phenomenal like usual, and won All-Star Game MVP with a staggering total of 47% of the vote.
Despite not winning Al-Star Game MVP, Barzal certainly did not leave San Jose empty-handed, as he received his share of the money for winning the tournament, some game-used sticks from other peers, and most importantly, respect and high praise from some of the best players throughout the league, which is priceless.
“The game plan is to give it to Mathew, obviously,” Letang said. “We played against him in the season and he just controls the whole game on his skating ability and his skills.” when talking to Sidney Crosby about the plan for the game. If Sidney Crosby is allowing you to run the majority of the offense…that must be a very special feeling. Sidney himself made remarks about how talented Barzal is, he told the media that “Watching him out there against the best and I don’t see anyone that really beats him in that category.”
Mathew Barzal’s idol Patrick Kane also commented on Barzal’s success.
“He’s an unbelievable skater, unbelievable on his edges,” Kane said. “Just playing against him a couple times this year, it’s pretty impressive how he can create time and space just from his footwork and obviously he has the hands to go with it. He seems like a really good kid, I’ve met him briefly maybe a couple of times on the ice a little bit, but very impressed with his game especially given how young he is.”
Mathew Barzal’s first All-Star Game was a massive success without a doubt, showing that the young star has a promising future ahead of him. If Barzal continues to be a dominant force in the NHL, there will be many future All-Star Games for him to attend to as he grows and continues to be the face of the franchise for the New York Islanders.