Here are a few highlights with links to more video of players’ thoughts from the Islanders’ side. It’s actually kind of nice to hear them speak a bit with a little rest in between series, and without the theater and in-series, between-games gamesmanship and cagey talk going on.
Matt Martin on facing Tampa in the semfinal again:
“We’re excited for the challenge. It was a hard-fought series last year. The feeling amongst the team is that was the hardest offseason we’ve been a part of because of how close we were to our goal. So we’re excited to have another opportunity at them. They’re the defending champs, you gotta go through them to get where you want to go.”
On underdog status:
“We don’t really think about it. You guys [the media] pick your winners and decide who’s the underdog. We’re a good team and we expected to be here. Coming into the season we expected to be here. ... We have our sights set on going all the way.”
“We’re excited to have another opportunity at them [Tampa]. We know how good they are, they’re defending champs and to get where you want to go, you have to go through them. It should be a fun series and we’re looking forward to it.”— x - New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) June 11, 2021
Martin & Leddy ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/muGXVxPVT5
Not Gonna Touch the Lightning Cap Thing
Dougie Hamilton had a quote after his Hurricanes were eliminated by the Lightning that the team is like “$18 million over the cap.” That’s in reference to the Lightning using LTIR to afford to keep Nikita Kucherov on the shelf as he rehabbed from his injury but now, thanks to the LTIR rules, he’s in the lineup for the playoffs as are the rest of the healthy Lightning.
That is, of course, completely legal if a bit shady. But it’s legal. It’s fun to joke about, but apparently some Lightning fans get Very Outraged if you bother to point out that the defending champs are also carrying an impossibly expensive roster. (The Isles, in contrast, are also over the cap through LTIR, but the difference is Anders Lee is still injured. Unlike Kucherov, he can’t play.)
Anyway, video of Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz’s availability wasn’t posted at the time of this post, but several reporters shared their reaction to a question trying to stir up pre-series drama about Kucherov and the cap:
Barry Trotz, asked about Nikita Kucherov and thoughts on salary cap: "I'm not a capologist, I'm a coach." Goes on to praise Kucherov as a player.— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) June 11, 2021
Lou, asked about Nikita Kuckerov and salary cap: "I echo what Barry says." Also goes on to praise Kucherov as a player.— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) June 11, 2021
Brock Nelson and Mat Barzal
Barzal on Tampa: “They’ve got a lot of talent, they’ve got a heckuva hockey team, they play the right way. ... We’ll go over video and watch some areas where they took advantage and try to address that.”
Three playoff runs in three seasons: What’s the big difference under the Lou Lamoriello-Barry Trotz regime?
Barzal: “They’ve meant a ton. The biggest thing is just the detail and the professionalism day in and day out, whether that’s having short hair and clean facial hair throughout the regular season or details on the ice like changing hard, coming hard to the bench, practicing hard. Just being a pro, whether you’re going out for dinner on the road or coming to the airplane, you’ve just got to be a pro 24/7. They’ve really implemented that. I think when your lifestyle and the way you are off the ice changes, detail on the ice changes. Lou brings so much knowledge, he’s seen every kind of situation, he has great advice for anybody whether you’re playing well or going through a rough patch. And Barry, especially during the playoffs he’s done a great job managing our rest and managing our in-game matchups. Both bring such professionalism and detail, that just goes such a long way. Over three years everyone’s become more of a pro.”
Barzal on Playing with Leo vs. Anders Lee:
“Playing with Leo or Lee, I’m doing a lot of the same things, trying to be dangerous off the rush. In the O-zone, I think Leo and Lee have similar roles, being hard on the puck and winning battles down low. He’s not 6’3 but he’s strong and hard on the puck. Leo does a great job coming back and playing the low guy for me.”
“Every team presents a different challenge and we have a group that goes out there and works hard. We like to call ourselves a deep team.”— x - New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) June 11, 2021
Nelson & Barzal ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/UW9pWGw0Za
Josh Bailey and Cal Clutterbuck