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Islanders-Lightning series has shown crosschecking is out of control

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - JUNE 23: The Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders scuffle at the end of the second period in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Semifinals during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Coliseum on June 23, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - JUNE 23: The Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders scuffle at the end of the second period in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Semifinals during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Coliseum on June 23, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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In last night’s overtime win the biggest takeaway might actually be Scott Mayfield‘s crosscheck on Nikita Kucherov than the New York Islanders actually winning the game. And while that is frustrating it makes sense.

The overwhelming narrative in these playoffs has been officiating and how it’s been woefully subpar through the entirety of the playoffs. Not just in the Islanders-Lightning series but through every series. So we’re all hyped focused on missed calls right now.

What we’ve learned in the six games between the Islanders and Lightning it’s that there’s a problem with the way cross-checking is isn’t being called and it needs to be fixed.

New York Islanders-Tampa Bay Lightning series has a crosschecking problem

Scott Mayfield crosschecks Kucherov. There’s no question. It’s not even debatable. He should have served a two-minute minor for the act. But the fact that he didn’t shouldn’t be a surprise with how this series has been called. These kind of crosschecks have gone unpunished all series long.

Again, that’s a penalty clear as day. Chris Lee was looking right at the play there’s no reason for him to “not see it”. Kucherov would exit the game not long after the hit and after he himself took a run at Mathew Barzal.

By the way, I hate this “protect superstars” angle. How about we protect everyone by calling these penalties? If these penalties are called then Scott Mayfield may not feel like he can get away with one whether it’s Nikita Kucherov or Blake Coleman.

While the Mayfield hit is getting a ton of press right now because it’s recent, a blatant infraction, and it was done on the leading scorer of the playoffs (Kucherov). But there are examples from both sides of the ice that have gone uncalled in this series.

Here’s Steven Stamkos nailing Brock Nelson behind the back in the slot. If that’s not cross-checking (it is) then it’s certainly interference. No call was made on the play.

Or how about this hit by Barclay Goodrow on Casey Cizikas at the end of Game 5. Again, that’s a blatant crosscheck and the official had a clear sightline on the play.

I’m not trying to paint the Lightning as worse than the Islanders or as though they are guilty of being more crosscheck-y than the Isles. Both the Islanders and Lightning are equally guilty of getting way too crosscheck happy. And it’s because the officials actively choose not to call these. For reasons.

I don’t think there will be a change in these playoffs, but the NHL and its officials must sort this out. Crosschecks are out of control because they are going unpunished and it’s a real issue.

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