The New York Islanders center joined forwards Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks and Mark Scheifele of the Winnipeg Jets on Monday for a videoconference organized by the NHL. Each considers himself a hockey nerd, having soaked up all kinds of stats and other historical information since childhood, so the players were put to the test in an informal trivia contest.
To be fair, Kane, 31, and Scheifele, 27, said Barzal, 22, might have a slight disadvantage as the junior member of the group. Little did he know that an Islanders-related question would trip him up.
"Uh-oh," he said with a sarcastic laugh.
The question: Which U.S. college did Lou Lamoriello, the Islanders general manager, help reach the NCAA men's Frozen Four in 1983 as coach?
"Is it (the University of) Maine? It's Maine, right?" Barzal said.
"Matt, Matt, Matt. What was your second choice?" asked moderator John Dellapina, NHL group vice president of communications.
"Is it not [Maine]? Is it (the University of) Vermont?" Barzal said.
Kane was asked to help.
"I think it was Providence (College)," he said.
"Oh man, that's not good," Barzal said.
Kane couldn't help taking a verbal jab at Barzal, who can become a restricted free agent after this season.
"Those contract negotiations just got a little tougher there," Kane quipped, causing all three to break into laughter.
One thing they all agree on: There has been plenty of time for them to brush up on their hockey knowledge while in self-isolation with the NHL season paused since March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
Barzal is at his parents' home in Vancouver and has fared far better in heated Ping-Pong battles with his family members than he did in Islanders trivia.
"I've been spanking my dad and killed my sister the other day too," he said.
Kane said he's been getting his fix of hockey nostalgia by watching replays of the Blackhawks' 2010 championship run that culminated with his Stanley Cup-winning goal against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 6 of the Final.
"It's kind of fun to look back and see how good of a team that was," he said.
[RELATED: Kane uses 2010 Blackhawks, video games to pass time during pause]
Scheifele shares a similar passion for watching as much televised hockey as he can, whether it be live or a rebroadcast from yesteryear. It's pretty much part of his routine during the season on days when he doesn't have a game.
"Unless it's football Sunday," Scheifele said. "Actually Saturday too. My roommate, (forward) Andrew Copp, he takes over for college football. So that's his one day with the remote. … Other than that, we definitely have a game on. In Winnipeg, games start at 6, so usually you're having dinner shortly after. So games are on. Just kind of chiming through games. If he has a buddy playing that he wants to watch a game, a lot of the time you're just trying to catch a good game. Obviously, if Edmonton-Calgary is on, you're going to tune in to that one."
Scheifele said he didn't develop an appetite for watching hockey on TV until Hall of Famer and former Jets forward Dale Hawerchuk, his coach with Barrie of the Ontario Hockey League, told him it was the best outlet to educate himself about the sport.
"To be honest, growing up I didn't watch a ton of hockey," the native of Kitchener, Ontario, said. "We watched "Hockey Night in Canada" on Saturdays. Other than that, growing up it was more me and my brother would rather be doing it. If there was a hockey game on, we'd rather be outside playing road hockey, or whatever, or playing basketball, or everything like that. I don't think the obsession really started until I was in junior."
Barzal's hunger for hockey knowledge extends beyond television. He said he'd search for statistics on Google and watch highlights on YouTube to try to get pumped up for minor hockey games.
"I hate to say it, but I watched a lot of Kaner growing up," he said.
Scheifele laughed at that comment.
"Like you need to hear that," he said to Kane jokingly.
For the most part, the three players showed off their grasp of hockey history.
Kane was asked who the two goalies were in the longest game in Buffalo Sabres history. The Buffalo native correctly identified Dominik Hasek of the Sabres and Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils, then quickly added that Dave Hannan scored in the fourth overtime to give Buffalo a 1-0 victory in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on April 27, 1994.
Over to Scheifele, who was quizzed on who scored the first goal for the Jets in their first game upon their return to Winnipeg on Oct. 9, 2011. He immediately answered Nik Antropov and even knew one of the assists was by Mark Stuart.
Barzal was on point too, correctly picking the Edmonton Oilers when asked which team had the most individual five-point games this season (five; three by Connor McDavid, two by Leon Draisaitl).
But there was another Islanders question that stumped him. Asked which coach in the New York organization was the goalie who helped Providence reach the 1985 NCAA Division I championship game, he could not come up with Chris Terreri.
Hey, like Kane and Scheifele said, cut Barzal a break. After all, he is the young guy in this group of hockey nerds.