With the Islanders traveling north of the border to face the Canucks Monday, a highly-anticipated matchup between the two top rookies in the league -- Mathew Barzal and Brock Boeser -- will unfold.
Many believe the Calder Trophy -- the NHL's equivalent to Rookie of the Year -- is strictly between these two, who have had incredible seasons thus far. At practice Sunday, both players noted how they try to keep their mind off the race for the trophy. However, it is hard when everyone else brings it up constantly.
"It's pretty hard to not see any of that stuff," Barzal told Newsday's Neil Best. "He's had a great season and pushed me, seeing how much success he was having. He's awesome...Obviously, he's got one of the best shots in the league."
Boeser added, "You try not to think about it and worry about it...But it's hard not to notice."
Barzal leads all rookies with 67 points (29 goals, 38 assists), which is 12 more points than Boeser. Barzal has always produced, according to Boeser, who played against him when they were kids.
"He's been that good since we were little kids and I played him in Triple-A hockey, so it doesn't surprise me at all," Boeser said.
Barzal has captivated the NHL, let alone the Isles' faithful, with his fantastic play. However, head coach Doug Weight has been ticked off with him at times. The latest instance came against the Penguins on Saturday when Barzal stayed on the ice too long during a power play.
The two spoke about the incident, and it was resolved quickly.
"It was my fault," Barzal said. "I didn't know how long I was out there. I was kind of just in the moment and trying to score and trying to win.
"That's maybe just being young and being excited a little bit out there and getting antsy to try to score."
Barzal wants to get involved, though, as the Isles are currently in a six-game losing skid. He may get some motivation from the hundreds of people he said will be in the stands as he is a Vancouver native. He also noted that about 20 friends and relatives will be in a luxury box as well.