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Barzal Excited for Second All-Star Weekend

Mathew Barzal maintaining focus on regular season, hopes Brock Nelson gets voted in to All-Star Weekend

by Sasha Kandrach KandrachSasha / NewYorkIslanders.com

Mathew Barzal is headed to his second All-Star Weekend. 

The NHL announced Monday afternoon that Barzal was selected to represent the Islanders at the 2020 NHL All-Star Weekend in St. Louis at the Enterprise Center from Jan. 24 to Jan. 25. 

"It's a nice feat during the year," Barzal said ahead of the Isles-Capitals game on Dec. 31. "I obviously couldn't have done it without my teammates and my coaches putting me in good spots. It's nice when it happens, but we still have 10 or so games before the All-Star break and we're in a tight race right now, so my focus is kind of on that."

The 22-year-old center leads the Isles in goal (16), assists (17) and points (33). At last year's All-Star Weekend, Barzal competed in the Fastest Skater competition and finished in third place with a time of 13.780 seconds. 

Video: NYI vs WSH: Mathew Barzal

The Coquitlam, British Columbia native also helped the Metropolitan Division team win the All-Star Game, which is played as three-on-three tournament, as the Metro scored a 10-5 win over the Central Division in the final game. 

"It's great, Mathew is exciting," Head Coach Barry Trotz said of Barzal's selection. "The format is right up his alley. The three-on-three format, I think he's one of the best in the league and he keeps maturing as a young player and getting better and better. He makes it exciting at the all-star game for sure." 

While All-Star Weekend less than a month away, Barzal is appreciative of the recognition to represent the Islanders but is maintaining his focus on the regular season games between now and then. 

"The goal at the start of the season is to make the playoffs and have a good regular season," Barzal said. "My focus isn't ever on making the all-star game, but to be going back in back to back years is obviously cool experience for me and my family. I'm looking forward to it."

Video: MET@CEN: Barzal goes top shelf to open the scoring

Last year, Barzal played on a line with Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang, both of whom were impressed by the Isles' all-star. Barzal looks forward to the experience ahead of playing exclusively with and against some of the NHL's best talents in St. Louis. 

"It's kind of just a cool experience for myself being a younger guy just being around some of the best players in the game," Barzal said. "Being on the same team as Crosby and [Claude] Giroux, two guys I kind of looked up to growing up. That was fun for me. It's just a cool experience and going into the second time around, I kind of know what to expect and whatnot. I'm sure it will be another good experience."

The 2020 All-Star roster has been announced, but the NHL allocates four additional spots - one from each Division's team - for fans to vote the "Last Man In." Brock Nelson received the nod on the Metropolitan Division ballot for the final voting push. The recognition is well-deserved for the 28-year-old center who is second on the Isles leaderboard behind Barzal in goals (13), assists (16) and points (29). Nelson leads the Isles in game-winning goals, with four through his 37 games played. 

Tweet from @NYIslanders: Brock Nelson is on the #NHLAllStar ���Last Men In��� ballot! 🙌 Let���s get him to the All-Star Game. Voting starts January 1. 🗳 BE READY 🗳 pic.twitter.com/E3zMdINRZC

"Brock has been sort of under the radar and not a lot of people have talked about him," Trotz said. "This is maybe a bit of a first step of getting to the next level is getting the recognition of what you do as a player and how consistent he has been. I was glad, obviously I'd like him on the team, but I was really glad that at least the recognition, he's starting to get the recognition that he well deserves."

Barzal was nothing but complementary of his teammate and hopeful that Nelson gets to join him in St. Louis. 

"Nelly has had a phenomenal year so far and there should be some serious consideration for him for the game," Barzal said. "I hope he gets voted in, it would be fun to have another teammate there and whatnot. He's had a great year and hopefully he gets in because he deserves it."

Voting for the Last Men In opens Wednesday, Jan. 1, at 12 p.m. ET and closes Friday, Jan. 10, at 11:59 p.m. ET.

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