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Mathew Barzal looking for more aggressive Islanders to regulate offense: ‘We’ve got to find a way to create high-danger chances’

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Mathew Barzal Islanders
Mathew Barzal (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

EAST MEADOW — Posting close to 40 shots on Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens is all fine and dandy for Islanders star center Mathew Barzal. But it’s about quality — not quantity. 

The Islanders’ offense is in a funk with just seven goals scored over their last five games that included three consecutive one-goal outings in losses to the Calgary Flames, Dallas Stars, and Minnesota Wild.

“A lot of our shots are from the outside so we’ve got to find a way to create high-danger chances,” Barzal told amNewYork Sports on Monday morning ahead of the Islanders’ tilt against the Washington Capitals. “I’d rather have 25 shots with 10 high dangers than 40 with three high dangers.”

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As of late, the high-danger chances have been few and far between for Barzal and the Islanders, especially during a four-game losing streak that was snapped on Saturday. Despite 38 shots on Samuel Montembeault’s goal in that win at UBS Arena over the weekend, only four of them were high-danger chances, according to Money Puck. They had zero in a 3-1 loss to the Wild on Thursday and five in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Stars on Tuesday.

In fact, the last time the Islanders generated more than five high-danger chances in a single game was on Dec. 16 during a 5-4 loss to the Coyotes in Arizona.

“High-danger chances… that’s how the best teams score over and over,” Barzal said. “Our shots have been getting blocked, goalies have been making good saves. It’s just that stretch of the year.”

Whether or not that re-opens the invitation for a conversation about the Islanders’ continued lack of an elite-level scorer to spur the offense, there’s no denying that New York’s attack is often too passive. As Barzal alluded to in referencing an abundance of shots from the outside that are normally blocked, the Islanders are tied for the ninth-most low-danger shot attempts in the league this season. 

When it comes to their unblocked shot attempts differential this season, according to the NHL, the Islanders’ mark of -64 is 11th-worst in the league.

“So it’s just a matter of finding those Grade A’s and just really putting them in the back of the net,” Barzal said. “That’s the biggest key…we just have to bear down and pull it through.”

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For more on Mathew Barzal and the Islanders, visit AMNY.com

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