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Islanders-Lightning Pre-Series Talk: On the rematch, the Lou/Trotz difference

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Mat Barzal, Matt Martin and others discuss the upcoming series, while Lou and Barry aren’t touching the Kucherov cap loophole.

Boston Bruins v New York Islanders - Game Six
“Lou and Barry bring such professionalism and detail, that just goes such a long way. Everyone’s become more of a pro.”
Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images

Friday was the day for the most media availabilities with players and even management ahead of the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning’s Stanley Cup semifinal series.

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.

The Rematch

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.”

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:

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.”

Josh Bailey and Cal Clutterbuck