There almost certainly willbe some fans at Nassau Coliseum wearing New York Saints shirts, quite possibly even some wearing jerseys of that defunct indoor lacrosse team that once played at the venerable barn and has seemingly been brought back to life thanks to unwitting comments from Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy.
It will be an electric atmosphere with a charged crowd of 12,000 as the Islanders can oust the Bruins in Wednesday night’s Game 6 of their second-round series.
“The last one is the hardest to get,” said Jordan Eberle, who scored one of the Islanders’ three-power play goals in Monday night’s improbable 5-4 win in Game 5 at TD Garden. “But we’re excited to go back to the Coliseum.”
Monday’s win left the Islanders on the brink of a second straight berth in the NHL’s final four after being eliminated by the Lightning in six games in last season’s Eastern Conference finals.
This season, the four divisional champions will be re-seeded and the Islanders or Bruins will play either the Lightning or the Hurricanes in the NHL semifinals with the Canadiens set to play either the Golden Knights or Avalanche.
So, just as certainly, neither the Islanders nor Bruins are focusing on the off-ice back-and-forth between Cassidy and Islanders coach Barry Trotz.
Cassidy, reacting to Trotz’s comments on Sunday that Bruins top-line center Patrice Bergeron cheated on faceoffs and unhappy with some calls and non-calls in Game 5, said the Islanders pushed the narrative they were the “New York Saints.”
Cassidy was fined $25,000 on Tuesday and Trotz declined comment
Neither team practiced on Tuesday and Trotz said during his media availability he doesn’t believe the Islanders will carry any momentum over from Game 5. The Bruins outshot them, 44-19, including 18-3 in a third period in which they scored twice and nearly rallied from a three-goal deficit. But goalie Semyon Varlamov was strong in net.
“Every game is an individual event,” Trotz said. “We have to be way better. We found a way to win. But we can be way better in our game. We have a few individuals that can have a little more substance to their game. Give [the Bruins] credit, they made some adjustments, they came with everything. They threw the kitchen sink. We were able to survive it and find a way to win it. That’s the playoffs.
“We’re just looking forward to tomorrow,” Trotz added. “It’s an opportunity.”
The Islanders, who have scored four or more goals three times in this series, have won two straight and also trailed their first-round series to the Penguins, 2-1, before advancing in a Game 6 at the Coliseum.
But the Bruins, too, are a seasoned team, having advanced to the Stanley Cup Final in 2019.
Game 7, if the Bruins make it necessary, will be Friday night at TD Garden.
“They know what’s at stake,” Cassidy said. “We need to go win a game, that’s it. We’re not looking ahead or behind now, either. We’re going up to New York to win a game. We have to. We look at Game 5, we thought we played well enough to win. In terms of the mindset of the guys, they know we can outplay the opposition. We’ve just got to go out and do it.”
The Bruins dominated five-on-five play on Monday and Bergeron’s line with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak combined for three goals and three assists.
“We’ve got to minimize some of our mistakes from our blue line back,” Cassidy said. “Do our best to stay out of the box.”