2. Status of Mathew Barzal for Game Six
How the Islanders will rebound from this 8-0 Game Five defeat is not so concerning. They’ve shown an ability in the past to bounce back from lopsided playoff losses in a respectable fashion, and there’s no reason to think they can’t do that again. But potentially doing so without the services of their best forward? That’s a different beast to tackle all together.
That may be the reality New York is staring in the face after Monday night.
Mathew Barzal cross-checked the Lightning’s Jan Rutta in the face after Monday’s second period had come to a close, and he’ll almost certainly be facing a meeting with the NHL’s Player Safety Department on Tuesday. That meeting will ultimately have a tremendous impact on how Game Six at Nassau Coliseum goes on Wednesday.
With their season on the line will the Islanders be able to push forward and force a deciding Game Seven in Tampa? Will that even be enough to get Barzal back into their lineup, or will this be a multi-game suspension?
Obviously, it’s too soon to tell, but what’s certain is Barzal absolutely cannot be tangling up in stuff like this at the end of periods. The Islanders center has always played with a chip on his shoulder, and that’s not a bad thing, but when it crosses a line and could potentially lead to a suspension in a crucial game, it becomes an obvious problem.
I don’t know if you can really call Barzal’s play dirty, as it seemed like just your routine stick jousting duel when it began. I wouldn’t say the intention there was necessarily nefarious on Barzy’s part, but again, the DoPS’s opinion on that will hold a lot more weight here than mine.