BOSTON — While the second-round series between the Islanders and Bruins has gotten nastier and nastier on the ice each game, the jabs have carried over to the postgame press conferences.
Following the Islanders’ 5-4 victory over the Bruins at TD Garden on Monday night, a game in which the Isles capitalized on three of their four power plays, Boston head coach Bruce Cassidy had some pointed words for the visiting team.
“It’s a very well-respected management and coach staff over there,” Cassidy said. “But they sell a narrative over there that they’re the New York Saints rather than the New York Islanders.”
While NHL referees continue to struggle with setting a precedent for penalties at the start of games, the Bruins evidently felt spurned by the black-and-white stripes in Game 5. Boston only received two man-advantage opportunities, with David Pastrnak scoring his second of the night on one to make it a two-goal game in the third period.
There have been an abundance of cross-checks throughout the series that the referees haven’t called, in addition to lots of post-whistle activity that have been let go. As a result, the series has gotten increasingly more physical.
“You’ll have to ask him about that,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said of Cassidy’s comments. “Just look where we wound up during the year, we were one of the least penalized teams in the whole league. So, I don’t know what he means by that, you’ll have to ask him.”
Islanders captain Anders Lee, who is roughly three months removed from season-ending ACL surgery on his right knee, skated by himself Monday morning at TD Garden.
Trotz reiterated that Lee would not be ready to compete in the playoffs, but it’s a good sign that the top-line winger apparently will be ready for training camp ahead of next season.
Lee did some light drills at center ice, presumably testing how his knee will hold up while skating sharp edges. He also took some redirection reps in front of the net, the spot he usually occupies during five-on-five and on the power play.
“It means a lot,” Trotz said of Lee’s presence. “Lee is a real good leader. He’s back skating and he will not return in the playoffs unless we play into September. You see how he’s putting in the work, how he’s supporting guys and he’s around and a really good influence on the whole group.”
After scoring 12 goals with seven assists in 27 regular-season games, Lee was ruled out for the remainder of the season in March.
Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov earned his fourth straight starting nod in Game 5. He turned aside 40 of the 44 shots he faced.
Since his rocky performances in Games 2 and 3 of the first-round series against the Penguins, Varlamov has been steady for the most part. Even though the early goal he allowed Monday night was due to a defensive breakdown, the Russian netminder has allowed a goal on one of the first three shots he’s faced in five of the six games he’s played this postseason.