[UPDATE: Barzal has been fined $5,000 for cross-checking Jan Rutta.]
Islanders star forward Mathew Barzal received a game misconduct and cross-checking major after catching Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta up high. That bit of violence took place at a common time: after the final whistle of the period. (In the case of that Barzal cross-check on Rutta, it happened at the end of the second period of Islanders – Lightning Game 5.)
After potting two more goals after Barzal was ejected, the Lightning beat the Islanders 8-0 in Game 5.
Barzal ejected for cross-checking Rutta; Suspension seems unlikely
Did Barzal deserve a game misconduct and cross-checking major for his hit on Rutta? That might boil down to personal opinion.
Some believe it was a “soft major,” others view it as an example of when “letting them play” goes wrong.
See what happens when you let cross checks and everything else go uncalled all postseason in the name of “letting them play.” Stupid.
— Adam Gretz (@AGretz) June 22, 2021
Should Barzal receive a suspension for his Game 5 cross-check on Rutta? That’s fuel for another debate.
But is it likely that he will? Probably not; as Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman discussed, especially notable cross-checks have resulted in fines, at most, lately. Friedman compared Barzal’s cross-check on Rutta to a hit Ryan McDonagh delivered on Mason Marchment during the First Round. In that case, McDonagh received a $5K fine.
The second period of Game 5 ended with the Lightning up 6-0 over the Islanders, so Barzal’s ejection didn’t exactly play a big role in the outcome. Rutta did not immediately return to Game 5.
So, it’s tough to imagine Barzal receiving a suspension, rather than a fine. (Or no supplemental discipline at all.)
But should the NHL consider adjusting, even such tweaks don’t happen until next season? Between moments like these and that notorious Tom Wilson – Artemi Panarin altercation, it might be time to tweak how much you can get away with during “scrums.”
(Then again, maybe not.)
ISLANDERS VS. LIGHTNING (TBL leads series 3-2) – series livestream link
Game 1: Islanders 2, Lightning 1
Game 2: Lightning 4, Islanders 2
Game 3: Lightning 2, Islanders 1
Game 4: Islanders 3, Lightning 2
Game 5: Lightning 8, Islanders 0
Game 6: Wed. June 23: Lightning at Islanders, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN / Peacock)
*Game 7: Fri. June 25: Islanders at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN / Peacock)
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.