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Mathew Barzal fined for crosscheck, available for Game 6 vs. Lightning

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Not a surprise, but with the Department of Random Player Safety you never know.

New York Islanders v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Five
“I mean I’d be cool with bigger fines in our CBA if the Department actually monitored for player safety.”
Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal has been fined $5,000, the classic “maximum allowed under the CBA” for his crosscheck to the head of Jan Rutta in Game 5 vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The fine is not news nor unexpected, so the main takeaway is that he will be available to play in Game 6. You never truly know how these things will go when the NHL Department of [air quotes] Player Safety [end air quotes] is involved.

Given the context of Barzal’s offense — it was part of an on-going altercation or “battle” in the parlance of our times, rather than a blindside predatory hit — a fine sounds consistent with some of the recent savagery discipline in these playoffs. The Islanders had three opponents fined in their previous series with the Bruins due to mid-battle offenses to the head.

And unlike those fined incidents by the Bruins, Barzal’s was actually witnessed and penalized during the game, as the Islanders star received a five-minute major and game misconduct. Sometimes the league views penalized things as “already dealt with in the game” unless they rise to a stronger level. Had the score in the game been closer at the time, and/or had Barzal been known as more of “that kind of player” who’s constantly engaged in violence rather than trying to move the puck to productive places, he might’ve gotten off with less during the game. And still faced the same supplementary discipline.

Anyway, Barzal is a go for Game 6. The Islanders could sure use that.