The choice, Barry Trotz allowed, wasn’t difficult at all, and why would it have been? Semyon Varlamov was the Islanders’ No. 1 goaltender throughout the season, so it was hardly a gamble to turn to him for Monday’s Game 2 after the Bruins had solved Ilya Sorokin in their 5-2 Game 1 victory.
“It was a pretty easy decision. We have two good goaltenders,” the coach said after Varlamov turned in a sparkling 39-save performance to backstop his team to a 4-3 overtime victory that evened this Round 2 at a game apiece. “His record [against Boston] was 5-1, his goals-against was under 2 [1.93], he’s a veteran and he’s not scared of these moments.”
Varlamov was outstanding as the Bruins crashed the net at every opportunity. He was strong on rebound control and formidable on loose pucks around the crease.
“He’s been a rock for us all year,” Trotz said. “I hope he gets a ton of votes for the Vezina, at least be a finalist because he’s been one of our MVP’s this year.”
The adjustment from playing in empty arenas to ones packed with fans, which was the case for the first two games in Boston after Massachusetts lifted most pandemic-related restrictions, has seeped behind NHL benches.
“It’s starting to feel normal again,” Trotz said. “ It has been the last little while, obviously in the Coliseum where the fans were so loud and that felt as normal as anything.
“Obviously with the fans in the stands and the atmosphere, I mean, I’ve got a mask on, I’m screaming at the players so they can actually hear me, and I see the other coaches around the league are having the same problem. The masks are becoming chin straps because the players are having trouble hearing you.
“That’s the normal part of the playoffs where you have to scream up and down the bench to find out who’s up, or the changes, or on any instructions,” the coach said. “So it’s getting tougher and tougher and it’s a lot more normal that when you have an empty building and everyone in the suites can hear you talking on the bench.”
When Matt Martin and Nic Ritchie drew coincidental minor penalties at 12:09 of the second period, the clubs were set to play four-on-four for 2:00. But because of some sort of malfunction neither Martin nor Carlo was released from the box until 15:25.
That meant the clubs went four-on-four for 3:16, a mishap that worked in Boston’s advantage as the Bruins controlled the puck in the Islanders’ zone for more than 30 seconds at the tail-end of the event.
“It actually messed me up a little bit because you’re sort of watching the clock and trying to get your groups out,” Trotz said. “That was not on the referees, I thought maybe they could blow the whistle but they weren’t sure about what time was on the clock and when they went in.
“That was all on the off-ice officials. They have to know that, they just messed up. It’s part of the game but it was unique.”
Fouls, but no harm. Trotz said winger Oliver Wahlstrom, who missed his third straight game with the lower-body injury he sustained in the third period of Game 5 versus Pittsburgh, “is getting nearer.”
“We’ll see where we are for Game 3,” Trotz said.
Game 3 will be played Thursday at the Coliseum.
Boston winger Craig Smith, feeling the brunt of a second-period hit from Cal Clutterbuck that forced him out of Game 1 following one third-period shift, was sidelined for Game 2. Jake DeBrusk moved into Smith’s spot on the second line with David Krejci and Taylor Hall while Karson Kuhlman was inserted into the lineup on the third line.