The New York Islanders focus is on Game 2. Not any retribution that may come their way because of the hit that Anders Lee laid on Nicklas Backstrom in the series opener.
The hit did not sit well with the Capitals and head coach Todd Reirden called it “predatory” after the Islanders defeated the Caps 4-2. Backstrom and Lee came together hard in the Islanders end as Lee was coming across the ice.
The Islander captain hit Backstrom in the chest sending him hard to the ice. Backstrom did not have the puck at the time of the collision.
Islanders coach Barry Trotz understood where Reirden was coming from with his comments the previous night, but added little more when asked about them.
“Player safety looks at it. They have good hockey people,” Trotz said told reporters on Thursday. “Todd was doing what you expect a coach to do. Defend his players. I don’t have anything on that reaction at all.”
Cal Clutterbuck echoed a similar sentiment when he was asked about it on Thursday.
“It’s a hit. It happens in the course of a hockey game, especially a playoff game,” Clutterbuck said. “There’s people in place at player safety to take a look at those types of things. They’re going to do that. We’re focused on Game 2.
Reirden announced on Thursday that Backstrom will miss Game 2 due to concussion protocol.
The hit adds more juice to an already juiced up series between the Islanders and Capitals. The two clubs played a very physical affair in Game 1 that saw plenty of skirmishes break out early on in the first period.
Reirden wasn’t the only one irked by the hit by Lee. John Carlson and T.J. Oshie both thought the league should take a second look at it for any supplementary discipline. Tom Wilson, who is no stranger to questionable hits himself, called it “fuel for the fire” for the Capitals.
“Obviously we didn’t like the hit,” Wilson said Thursday. “Nicky is our star player. He’s a leader for us and you never want to see a guy go down, especially a guy like that. We’re going to do our best to play for him and step in.”