Islanders Mathew Barzal is set to play his 300th NHL game

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Mathew Barzal would have preferred to play on, but his coach decided otherwise.

Playing in 300 NHL games is nice in the big picture. But it’s clear there are other things in front of the Islanders Center’s head.

“It’s been fun being here. Glad they’ve all been with the Islanders,” Barzal said Wednesday, a day before reaching that milestone in a game against the Devils in Newark. “Hopefully I can keep going. pick them up. “

Barzal has had a colossal influence on the islanders. Through 299 games, Barzal has 259 points (79 goals, 180 assists), which puts him in the mix with the Islanders’ legends. Clark Gillies had 238 points in his first 300 games, John Tavares had 260 and Denis Potvin had 289. That trio is among the franchise’s top five scorers all time.

But when asked about this season, where he has seven points (three goals, four assists) in 10 games, the first thing Barzal mentioned was improvement.

Mathew Barzal

“I think there have obviously just been some matches where I may not have been as dynamic or had the puck as much as the last two [games]said Barzal. “Or our line has not been as good as the last two.”

It’s true that Anders Lee, Barzal and Josh Bailey’s top line has taken some time to get used to. Coach Barry Trotz originally had Kyle Palmieri in Bailey’s place, but it was quickly dismissed in the middle of a bad start.

Lee has scored three times in the last two games, but it has kicmnk-started line production. Barzal said that when the Islanders play with a lead, he does not feel a need to force things forward.

“We were in Arizona, Chicago, we had a lead the whole game. There’s not much I really need to go out there and break the game open, make an explosive game to get us on the board, we’re up,” he said. “So in those situations, Barry controls our bench and controls who’s on the ice at what point. [he] do a good job. “

This year, Trotz said, Barzal has grown in terms of understanding. Everything in hockey is about cause and effect – a simple fact that has clicked for Barzal.

“If there’s something like your part of the job you do not do, there’s an effect down,” Trotz said. “He puts those pieces together. I think when I first came here he accepted it, but he did not really put them together.… He did it because that was what we were supposed to do. Now I think he sees different on that. “

It’s easy to see past Barzal’s historic pace because it’s so early in the 24 – year’s career. Andy Greene, a 39-year-old veteran, is on his way to playing his 1,000th. match when the Islanders play in Tampa Bay on Monday. Barzal joked that he wished Greene was closer to his age so they could have more fun together off the ice.

With Trotz ‘standard of 400 games, Barzal would not even be considered a veteran.

“I always look at it as if when a guy hits 25 years or 400 games, then they are a pretty well-established veteran in the league,” Trotz said. “They had the growth as a player and the growth as a young man.”