Barzy and Bo are tearing it up on Islanders top line


When the Islanders acquired Bo Horvat from the Canucks just before last season’s trade deadline, there was instant chemistry between Horvat and Mat Barzal. 

Like this.

That chemistry was short-lived, however, when Barzal suffered an injury and was sidelined for the final 13 games of the regular season. Barzal would return for the opening-round playoff series against the Hurricanes, but they couldn’t rekindle that magic quick enough and the Islanders were eliminated in six games.

Fast forward to this year and the magic is back.

The latest example was Thursday night’s 7-3 win over the Blue Jackets with Barzal notching two goals and two assists while Horvat had two goals of his own during 20 seconds in the third period to go along with an assist.

Barzal, the NHL’s second star last week, recorded his second four-point night in a week and now has three four-point games this season. Barzy has 11 points (4 goals and 7 assists) over his last four games and his connection with Horvat has become even stronger than it was last season.

“I would say it’s way better now,” Barzal told Greater Long Island following Thursday night’s game. “I thought before I got hurt, he had just come in and we created a few goals but I don’t think the actual quality was as good as it is right now.”

Barzal is the Islanders’ leading scorer with 27 points this season while Horvat is tied with Noah Dobson for second with 23. Horvat has been on fire as he recorded his third straight multi-point game and his seventh of the season.

The chemistry between Bo and Barzy has been electric.

“It’s great,” said Horvat. “I was hoping it would pick up where it left off before he got hurt. It’s been great so far and I think we’re just getting more and more comfortable out there. I think when things aren’t going our way, we know why and when things are going our way, we’re looking for each other and feeding off each other so it’s been good.”

Joining the fun on the top line Thursday night was captain Anders Lee. While he didn’t get into the scoring fun, he matched Horvat with a plus 4 doing what he does best with the dirty work in the front of the net.  

The Captain is excited about what’s happening and what lies ahead.

“We’re building on our game,” said Lee. “Let’s just keep building on that and keep working each other and use each other’s strengths using Barzy’s speed and the way Bo sees the ice and plays 200 feet. We should be able to make things happen as often as we can.”

Barzal and Horvat’s magic has also helped spark the Islanders’ power play, a unit that has plagued the Islanders in recent seasons and especially in last year’s playoffs. The Islanders are 6th in the NHL with a power play conversion rate of 26.1 compared to 23.7% through 25 games last season. 

The man advantage has been hot recently going 6 for 14 (42.8%) over the last 5 games and they’re also 12 of 31 since November 15th with that 38.7% rate being the best in the NHL during that time.

When Barzy and Bo are feeling it, the red light has been coming on at a high frequency.

“It just seems like every time we get a scoring chance it’s in the back of the net,” said Barzal. “That’s the great thing playing with an opportunistic Bo… you give him a chance or two and they’re going in the back of the net.”

The Islanders, who sit in third place in the Metropolitan Division, are two games into a six-game homestand and have a chance to rack up some points here in advance of the New Year. With Barzal and Horvat creating quite a 1-2 punch, the Islanders have now scored at least 4 goals in their last five games, something they didn’t do at all last year.

Top: New York Islanders’ Mathew Barzal (13) celebrates with teammate Bo Horvat (14) after scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Arizona Coyotes Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

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