Unfortunately for Islanders forward Mathew Barzal, he faces a fine for another embellishment during a game after facing the Washington Capitals Tuesday night.
His first call for this was January 30 against the Philadelphia Flyers. Due to the fact that that was his first offense this season, he was let off with a warning. However, this second one comes with a $2000 price tag.
After reviewing the play multiple times, I believe the referees made the wrong call here. What they were saying was that because he had his hand on Carl Hagelin’s stick that was stuck in his midsection, that he pulled himself down when Hagelin tried to get his stick back. What I argue is that if anyone had somebodies’ stick up their side, I am sure they would try to remove it. That means having to grab on to it and unhook it. What went wrong for Barzal is that the referees failed to notice this motion and thought he was trying to draw a larger penalty. In all honesty, it was a clear hooking and take down by Hagelin, but it ended up costing Barzal.
Throughout the season, Barzal has been on the latter half of fair treatment by the refs. Even last season in the bubble he took two high sticks to the face which quite literally made his lip swell up. Was there any call for either? No. Then all of a sudden he tries to dislodge himself from an opposing player’s stick and he is labeled the bad guy.
Looking at the Islanders statistics, Barzal leads the team in penalty minutes. Sure a trip here and there or a slashing is usual to the game, but what is not normal is the fact that he seems to get called for the little things that other teams get looked over for. Sitting at 46 minutes compared to Jordan Eberle who has 14 and is placed at second for the team in penalty minutes just goes to show that for some reason Barzal is being zoned in on by officials; the comparison isn’t even close. Looking at Barzal’s game too, he isn’t an overly aggressive player that you would see 46 minutes listed and say, yea that makes sense.
Now Barzal faces a chance of receiving another fine if he receives another embellishment call, this time it would increase to $3000. Makes one wonder how this would affect his game. If he is playing hard and receiving all these unearned penalties, will he be forced to turn his game down or will he run the risk of spending more time in the box?