The testiness of the Islanders’ backs-to-the-wall win over the Bruins in Saturday’s Game 4 had all the signs of a series reaching its boiling point.
When Scott Mayfield slammed Taylor Hall to the ice, Hall didn’t hesitate to drop his gloves.
After Mathew Barzal shoved his stick in Curtis Lazar’s face, Barzal ended up in a scrap with Jarred Tinordi.
After walking away with a win, Islanders coach Barry Trotz tried chalking up the skirmishes to the Bruins angling to get some momentum but failing.
But both teams acknowledged that as the series goes deeper, the intensity will only ramp up.
“I think both teams are physical,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “It showed in the first period. There was a lot of stuff going on out there. We’re drawing penalties trying to be physical, they’re drawing penalties trying to be physical. I think that’s in both teams’ DNA.”
After combining for 32 penalty minutes through the first three games, the teams racked up 30 in Game 4 alone. The Bruins have gripes about penalties not going their way, but Cassidy warned his team that even though altercations may come as players get edgier, they can’t get wrapped up in balancing out calls.
“Some of that stuff you’ve just got to live with and play through and not let it get to you mentally — knowing that, hey, the same thing just happened, why aren’t we on the power play?” Cassidy said. “You’ve just got to suck it up, kill the penalty, and get back to work.”
Trotz is aware of the toll a physical series can take.
“It’s a physical grind, it’s a mental grind,” Trotz said. “The thing of a long series is that if a guy gets nicked up early in the series, the nicks don’t go away. They just compound. So I think the later a series goes, the more exhausted you are, the more beat up you are, the more mentally drained you are. That’s just that’s part of the business in our field.”
The series will go at least six games, so Cassidy said both teams will have to manage.
“I think physicality wears on everybody, it’s just how you handle it,” Cassidy said. “I think both teams are used to it. There’s a reason why we’re still playing, a reason why they’re still playing. Both teams [were] playing at this time last year, so they have it in their DNA, we have it in our DNA to keep playing through it, the physical part. Someone’s going to be the last team standing. And we’ve just got to keep doing what we need to do to make sure we’re that team.”
Bergeron a Selke finalist again
For the 10th straight season, Patrice Bergeron is a finalist for the Selke Trophy awarded to the league’s best defensive forward.
He’s in the running for the honor along with Florida Panthers forward Aleksander Barkov and Vegas Golden Knights forward Mark Stone.
Bergeron, who finished the regular season with 23 goals, 25 assists, and a plus-27 rating, could become the first-ever five-time Selke winner.
“It’s good people are continuing to pay attention because he deserves it,” Cassidy said. “Certainly you know he emulates what that award’s all about. He did it again this year. There’s a couple of good candidates, as well, he’s up against, so that’s always a tough call for the people deciding. But I’m glad to see him get as his just due.”
Second look at third line
Cassidy didn’t mince words when it came to the lack of production from the Bruins’ third line.
Nick Ritchie was a minus-1 in 11;50 in Game 4, Charlie Coyle was a minus-2 in 14:28, and Jake DeBrusk was a minus-1 in 11:22.
“Third line didn’t generate much last night,” Cassidy said. “Didn’t generate anything, to be honest with you. They’ve had better games.”
Asked if he had considered playing Trent Frederic or Karson Kuhlman in the place of DeBrusk, Cassidy said he would wait until Monday to discuss his plans for any lineup changes.
“I don’t want to do that through you guys,” Cassidy said. “When we talked to the players, make sure we drill down and see what’s the best fit for us. So you guys will know tomorrow who’s in the lineup.”
Krejci fined for slash
David Krejci was fined $5,000 for his slashing penalty against Barzal.
After being checked in the back repeatedly by Barzal, Krejci jammed his stick into Barzal’s groin.
Krejci was initially issued a spearing penalty but it was reduced to a slashing penalty after an official review.
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.