Mathew Barzal
Catalina Fragoso-USA TODAY Sports

A struggling Mathew Barzal seems to finally have regained his footing.

Leen Amin

The New York Islanders are coming off their best week since their COVID-19 outbreak began. They lost just one of three games and did well defensively and offensively.

During the team’s historically bad losing streak, the Islanders weren’t scoring goals. It took them nine games just to get back to scoring more than one goal in a game.

However, New York’s offense has really come to life lately and a significant reason why is Mathew Barzal.

Player of the Week: C Mathew Barzal

@ OTT: 1 A
@ NSH: 1 A
@ NJD: 2 A
Average Game Score: 2.13
Average defensive impact: 0.58

For the second consecutive week, Barzal is New York’s player of the week. He’s been recognized as the face of the Islanders for several seasons now, but wasn’t playing like it to begin the 2021-22 season. That is, until now.

He’s been on a roll and puts up points every game. Barzal was even better in Week 9 than he was the week before. He averaged a significantly higher Game Score and, although he didn’t score a goal this week, recorded four assists in three games.

He’s been facilitating offense incredibly well and has even played well defensively while also improving that aspect of his game by the week.

Barzal was a top-two player for New York in two of their three games last week, including the team’s best against the New Jersey Devils.

The Islanders are beginning to win more games because of their offense. The offense has been better because of that excellent top line and that line has been so good thanks to Barzal.

Unfortunately for the Islanders and their fans, they’re going to have to do without their best player for some time as he recovers from COVID-19.

This really couldn’t have come at a worse time. The Islanders are going to need Barzal’s help as they try to make up ground in the standings and he can’t come back soon enough.

Honorable Mention #1: LW Anders Lee

@ OTT: 2 G
vs. NSH: 1 G
Average Game Score: 2.08
Average defensive impact: 0.60

Barzal only recorded assists in Week 9 and Lee only scored goals.

What a week this was for the captain. Barzal’s linemate looked nearly as good, putting so many pucks he got into the back of the net.

Lee is still searching for his first helper of the season, but as long as he’s scoring goals, there won’t be much complaining from anyone. Lee averaged a goal a game in Week 9 and played a strong defensive game.

He was a top-four player in all three games this week, as well as the team’s best against the Ottawa Senators, when he scored twice.

Lee really showed Islanders fans what they missed while he was on COVID-19 protocol and will need to continue to shine if the Islanders hope to make the playoffs.

Honorable Mention #2: RW Oliver Wahlstrom

@ OTT: 1 G, 1 A
vs. NSH: 2 A
vs. NJD: 2 A
Average Game Score: 1.93
Average defensive impact: -0.02

Last but not least is the third and final member of the Islanders’ new and improved top line. Wahlstrom has been fantastic, as of late, and is a true offensive force for a New York team that’s approaching crunch time.

The Islanders got the best of both worlds with Wahlstrom in Week 9: he scored a goal while also recording a whopping five assists. He recorded more points than either of his linemates and was a top-three player in all three games last week.

Wahlstrom is benefiting mightily from the increased playing time and promotion to the team’s top RW spot. Even his defensive game has improved. He still isn’t great in his own zone, but has been looking better.

Wahlstrom is quickly becoming one of the best players on this team and should have no problem racking up points as the season progresses.

Leen has written about the MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, and international soccer. She is currently the primary NHL writer for ESNY. Leen's work has been featured on Bleacher Report and she was formerly a contributor for FanSided's New York Mets blog, Rising Apple. She is a co-host of the Yankees-Mets Express podcast.