The chemistry between Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier was on display Tuesday night on Barzal’s game-winning goal.
The pair looked in tune with one another as Beauvillier almost instinctively came to a stop just after entering the Philadelphia Flyers’ zone and then sent a crisp pass to Barzal. The Islanders won the game 5-4 off of that play.
However, if you wanted an example of just how deep their bond runs you’d have to go back to an earlier play in the game.
Barzal had just scored to put the Islanders up 4-1 in the second period, but off in the corner Beauvillier had been knocked down and was still being crosschecked by Andrew MacDonald well after the play had ended. Barzal was the first to jump in to defend Beauvillier.
“I mean maybe I’m not really known for doing that, but obviously the thing is I know he would have done the same thing for me. It would have been tough for me to turn the cheek,” Barzal said.
For his troubles, Barzal got clotheslined by Wayne Simmonds as he tried to intervene and was sporting a mark on his face from the run in after the game. The gesture was certainly appreciated by Beauvillier, who had scored his 20th goal of the season earlier in the period.
“I would have done the same thing for him,” Beauvillier said. “It’s always fun seeing one of your teammates jump in a little scrum there. I mean he doesn’t have to do it. It’s not really his job, but it means a lot about what kind of guy he is and what kind of leader he is on this team.”
The reaction shouldn’t have surprised anyone considering how close the two have become off the ice. The pair hang out a lot away from the rink, they are roommates on the road and it’s not uncommon for either one of them to make an appearance on the other’s social media accounts.
And of course, there are the friendly jabs at one another.
Barzal even goes out of his way to speak French to Beuvillier’s parents when they come to town. “Whenever my parents are in town or something he tries a lot to speak to them in French,” Beauvillier said.
It’s that bond off the ice that has helped them become a force to be reckoned with on the ice. The pair of 20-year-olds have both reached or crossed the 20 goal mark this season — Barzal has 22 and Beauvillier has 20 — making them the first duo in franchise history to accomplish the feat in the same season before their 21st birthday.
Barzal’s 82 points this season leads all NHL rookies and he is a point behind John Tavares for the team lead in points. Beauvillier is riding a four-game point streak, which is a career high for the forward and matches the Islanders season high.
“I think it helps,” Barzal said about the off-ice relationship helping things on the ice. “Even with Jordan (Eberle). Just all three of us we all give each other a hard time off the ice, but also really want each other to do well. To see Beau get 20 there, me and Ebs are both super happy. It’s a pretty cool mark for him, especially with the year he’s had.”
Part of what has helped. as well, has been the open line of communication the two have with one another. Being close friends off the ice means the two can have more frank conversations during the course of a game.
“We’re good friends off the ice so we’re not really afraid to tell each other anything on the bench,” Beauvillier said. “Whether it was a bad play or a mistake we made. Always with respect though we tell each other things that we didn’t like. It helps a lot for sure on the ice.”
Down to just two games left in the season, the pair along with Eberle has been the Islanders best line on a nightly basis. One of the few positives this year in a season chocked full of negatives.