In Game 6 on Wednesday, the Islanders may not have their best players.
With the end of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup semi-final losing to the Chargers, Matthew Balzal chased Jan Ruta and cross-checked his face before punching. Before the headshot, the two seemed to exchange some words.
Ruta stayed on the ice for a while. Balzal was sentenced to a five-minute Grand Slam for cross-checking and misconduct. The Lightning defenders did not sit on the bench at the beginning of the third quarter, and coach Jon Cooper did not update after the game.
Tampa Bay, already leading 6-0, started the third quarter with a human advantage and added another record through five minutes of strength. In the end, the Chargers won 8-0.
“It’s just disappointed, because you know it’s not going well,” Islanders bench boss Barrett Rotz said after the game. Later, he didn’t hear any news about additional discipline from the league.
But will he? With a major distribution-it’s a headshot-the show will now definitely be reviewed by the NHL’s player safety department. So, the question is: Will Balzal be suspended?
The NHL made several suspensions in this playoffs:
|work group||Mark Schaeffler||toll||4 games|
|VGK||Ryan Reeves||Match penalty||2 games|
|Colonel||Nazem Kadri||Illegal inspection of the head||8 games|
|EDM||Josh Archibald||Tailoring||1 game|
|FLA||Sam Bennett||Boarding||1 game|
Losing Barzal will leave Barry Trotz’s team with a huge offensive hole. The Islanders ranked first in the regular season standings (45 points in 55 games), and Balzal scored 12 points in the playoffs. After the cold start of the playoffs-with zero goals in the first eight games-he scored six goals in the last eight games (entering Monday) and scored three goals against the Chargers. Goal leads the team.
One thing that can help Balzal is that his career has never been suspended. In 289 games, he had only one misconduct-a 10-minute trip to the capital on January 28th. He was fined for diving/decoration in April.
New York will now have 48 hours to think about what will happen next. The sixth game is scheduled to be held on Wednesday night. This may be the last swan song at the Nassau Stadium.