New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz has said he doesn’t take part in any gamesmanship during the playoffs, but it certainly sounded like some when he was talking about the integrity of how Game 2 was played.
The Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning found themselves in a spirited bout in Game 2, ripe with plenty of postwhistle shenanigans and trips to the penalty box. It was enough of an irritant that Trotz hinted that Tampa Bay was taking some liberties following the 4-2 loss, which evened the best-of-seven series at 1-1.
The Islanders found themselves uncharacteristically on the penalty kill five times on Tuesday night and racked up a surprising 33 minutes in penalties. It was by far the highest number of penalty kills the Islanders have had to be out on during the postseason.
What contributed to such a shift away from what the Islanders had managed to avoid so well in Game 1? Trotz again appeared to point to extra liberties being taken and some gamesmanship on the part of Tampa Bay on the ice.
“Tampa has a very good power play and we don’t want to spend any time in the penalty box, so just play it straight up. Our guys don’t go down,” Barry Trotz said. “If they do they hear it from me. I’m not a big believer in that. I think it’s not the right way to play. We don’t want to be in the box. The referees have a tough enough job and so just play it straight up.
“Our guys were taking some extra shots because (Tampa Bay) knew we weren’t going to react to it because we can’t spend any time in the penalty box.”
🎥 Trotz Media Availability 🎥 pic.twitter.com/DRMTO2LOhL
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) June 16, 2021
Whatever message Trotz was trying to send during the Islanders’ off day, neither side should be thrilled with how Game 2 was officiated. Missed or wrong calls that went both ways directly impacted the outcome of the game on Tuesday.
A bad call on Brayden Point for goaltender interference led to Brock Nelson tying the game at one on the ensuing power play. Video showed that Point had been pushed into Isles netminder Semyon Varlamov by Adam Pelech.
Not to be outdone, the officials missed a blatant too many men on the ice call when Ondrej Palat scored to break the 1-1 tie in the second period. And now you can add Trotz’s not-so-subtle insinuation that Tampa had been hamming it up on the ice to draw penalties.
Regardless of all of that, Trotz insisted that the key to getting through all the noise is sticking to the Islanders’ game plan.
“If you just get to your game and stick to your game, you just have to trust your game,” Barry Trotz said. “You’re going to win more than you’re going to lose and that’s how we’ve operated the last couple of years. Get to our game, stick to our game and we usually get a good outcome.”
Part of that plan is staying out of the box and the Islanders have learned quickly why they don’t want to find themselves down a man to Tampa Bay.
The defending Stanley Cup Champions have put the puck in the back of the net off power-play goals in each of the first two games of the series. New York did manage to fend off four of Tampa Bay’s power-play opportunities on Tuesday, but Victor Hedman’s power-play goal at 9:17 while on the man advantage was the backbreaker for the Islanders.
Will Trotz’s comments change anything for Game 3 on Long Island on Thursday? Only time will tell.