Islanders center Mathew Barzal looks on against the Hurricanes in...

Islanders center Mathew Barzal looks on against the Hurricanes in the first period at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on March 7. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Mathew Barzal was celebrating beating his mother at cards.


“I think yesterday was my tipping point. I was going a little crazy,” the Islanders center said Friday on a conference call. “I think I played an hour of ping-pong and I didn’t let up on my dad once. Then I was playing crib and beat my mom a couple of times. I was celly-ing in the kitchen and really enjoying my wins. I don’t know what it was, but I would have played any game yesterday. I had so much energy. I just wanted to get competitive over something. I need to be doing something.”

Barzal is spending the NHL’s self-quarantine period to combat the COVID-19 pandemic with his family in the Vancouver, British Columbia, area.

He’s working out on his own, playing lots of ping-pong with his father and sister, playing video games and trying to learn the guitar, something teammate Jordan Eberle started teaching him this season.

But Barzal is missing the competition and his teammates.

“I’d say the hardest thing for me is just not being around lots of people,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of energy when I’m around the rink. I just like messing with the guys or being around my teammates and having fun at the rink. That’s my favorite part of life, really. Not being able to do that has been tough.”

Trying to figure out the guitar has been a good diversion, though.

“I think I’d surprise you guys right now if I was playing,” said Barzal, adding that he picked up a guitar for the first time two months ago. “It’s like starting from scratch, putting on skates for the first time. It’s difficult and I seriously respect people that can play guitar. You don’t just pick up a guitar and become good. You have to work at it. It’s kind of like hockey, to be honest. People that are really good at hockey generally have worked at it more than the next guy.”

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