In the New York Islanders 7-5 over the New York Rangers on Thursday night, Mathew Barzal’s emotions got the better of him. And Barry Trotz wasn’t having it.
It’s pretty safe to say Mathew Barzal is one of the best players in the league, and undoubtedly the best on the New York Islanders, but that doesn’t mean he gets a pass. In the third period, against the New York Ranger Barzal and the Rangers’ Brett Howden jousted. It appeared Howden was holding Barzal’s stick for several seconds.
Barzal then retaliated by delivering blows to the back of Howden. A few moments later, the two made a play for the puck and Barzal broke his stick on Howden by cross-checking him.
Barzal was given a two-minute minor. The Rangers would score on the resulting power play. This resulted in Islanders’ coach Barry Trotz benching Barzal for the final 7:18 of the game.
Trotz responded publicly:
It’s a teaching moment, I don’t think Barzy had a good game. I don’t think he had a lot of battle in his game, unfortunately. Not where I expect it.
This shows that Trotz has certain expectations for players that isn’t just point production. This was definitely for the best because Barzal was getting a little out of hand.
This absolutely shows the effect Trotz has on this team. Trotz benching Barzal shows the accountability and responsibility he calls for. Islander fans should view this as a positive.
I’m sure most fans don’t want to see their best player benched in a rivalry game while the Islanders were defending a lead. Trotz put out the players he thought could best hold their nerve and it worked. This was the best example of the changes that have come to the Islanders.
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Last season, with Doug Weight as the coach, penalties like that would probably have kept happening. Trotz is determined to keep this team winning, even if it means benching the best player.