ANAHEIM, Calif. — Chances are Mathew Barzal reviewed some game video on Sunday, and not just the scoring chances. The immensely gifted skater and playmaker has learned to look at a broader scope.
The Islanders did not practice in advance of Monday night’s game against the Ducks at Honda Center, so Barzal had plenty of time to check out Saturday night’s game against the Sharks. Despite having their winning streak snapped at five games, the Isles extended their franchise-record point streak to 15-0-2 in a 2-1 overtime loss in San Jose to open this three-game California swing. The Islanders played one of their better games of late against the Sharks, aside from their 0-for-6 power play against the NHL’s top penalty-kill unit.
The Ducks, meanwhile, ended a 1-2-1 road trip with a 6-2 loss to the Lightning on Saturday night and are in a 1-5-3 slide overall.
“I’ll re-watch those games two, three times sometimes,” Barzal said. “I’ll watch the power play. I’ll watch overtime. I got lots of free time during the day.
“I used to just watch the offensive plays,” the 22-year-old center said. “But I’ll see myself have a nice takeaway or intercept a pass. A sneaky play like that. Maybe I enjoy watching it a little more. That’s something I like doing.
“Me and Ebs [right wing Jordan Eberle] talk about being thieves out there and trying to intercept as many pucks as we can.”
Barzal’s understanding of how defense can lead to offense has grown significantly under coach Barry Trotz.
Barzal has a team-leading 20 points on nine goals and 11 assists, including three goals and five assists in his last seven games.
In addition to Barzal’s usual spot between Eberle and Anders Lee, Trotz is not shy about double-shifting him. On Saturday, he wound up between Anthony Beauvillier and Josh Bailey or grinders Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck for a shift or two.
“I feel very comfortable double-shifting him with not necessarily all offensive players,” Trotz said. “He can do that and he skates so well. So he’s earned it, plain and simple.
“I think what he’s learned is value a little bit on both sides of the puck,” Trotz said. “I think he’s got more balance. Starting from where he was last year at the start of the year to now, he’s made great strides. He understands the value of the moment and he understands the moment can be a positive or a negative one.”