Over the last three postseasons, Barry Trotz’s teams have discussed ad nauseam how getting that fourth win in a playoff series to eliminate an opponent and advance to the next round is always the toughest.
For the sixth time now in the last three years, the New York Islanders are having that discussion following their Game 5 victory over the Boston Bruins to take a 3-2 series lead with a chance to clinch their spot in the Stanley Cup semifinals on Wednesday at Nassau Coliseum.
“I think the biggest thing is that you know — players know — any team that has experience knows how hard it is to get that fourth [win] and you have to bring that desperation too,” Trotz said. “We’ll be desperate [Wednesday]. They’ll be desperate. To get the fourth one is always the toughest. I think guys understand they have to leave their best game out there. Hopefully, we get the result.”
The Islanders’ run toward another upset has been marred as of late by the comments of Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, who called out Trotz for his comments on Boston’s star center, Patrice Bergeron, before going after the referees — resulting in a $25,000 fine — following the Islanders’ 5-4 victory in Game 5.
“I can’t tell you what’s going on there,” Trotz repeated on Tuesday. “You’ll have to ask Bruce. I don’t have any tension or any emotions about it.”
Then he went back into the same gamesmanship mode that initially tweaked the Bruins before Game 5 when he stated that Bergeron “cheats” on face-offs.
“I don’t work [the officials], I respect them,” he said. “I worked the referee situation [during practices] in the bubble [last year] and I got ran over. I tried to call penalties, I tried to call offsides… It’s a hard job and I have a lot of respect for those guys because I lived it. I was bruised and battered after the bubble.”
But along with the cliche of that last win of a series being the toughest to get, Trotz also maintained his tune that there is no such thing as momentum carrying over from game to game. That means the Islanders’ thrilling win on Monday night to set up a clincher is long out the window.
“Every game is an individual event,” he said. “We have to be way better. We found a way to win [Game 5], which was good for the group. We were resilient.”
Trotz and the Islanders will have to rise above the commotion being made by the Bruins to try and close out one of the most potent teams in the sport, led by that menacing first line of Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak that continues to make plenty of noise this series with a combined 20 points over the first five games.
“We’re just looking forward to tomorrow,” Trotz said. “We know the Bruins are a very good hockey team with some exceptional talents, especially the big line, and we’re going to have to collectively be at our best.”
And yes, Trotz can’t wait to hear the crowd at Nassau Coliseum, too.
“It’s probably going to be like it has been the last couple games: crazy and loud,” Trotz said. “They’re fun games. Last night was fun. It was stressful but it was fun. The fans make a big difference.”