I was listening to the third period of Isles-Bruins on the radio (well, on my phone) while walking home in the rain last night. (I had an umbrella; it was fine.) I hadn’t missed much. Craig Smith had opened the scoring for Boston in the first, and Tuukka Rask had stopped every shot that the Islanders had sent his way up to that point. It stayed like that, 1-0 Boston, for the first 14 minutes of that final period, as the Isles killed off a couple of penalties in front of their 12,000-strong home crowd. Then, with under six minutes remaining, New York had possession in their offensive zone and sent the puck behind the Bruins net. I heard Isles play-by-play man Chris King say “Mat Barzal,” and then there was just ear-splitting static.
After what felt like an eternity, it started to clear up. I could make out the distinct sound of a goal horn, and the long-lost roar of a massive playoff crowd, and then finally King was able to confirm what I had hoped—Barzy, New York’s beautiful prince, had scored his first of the playoffs to tie the game 1-1 in Game 3 of an even series.
If you don’t want to just imagine it like I had to, it looked like this.
I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but a new challenger has taken the crown. This Game 3 gathering was the best hockey crowd I’d heard or seen in well over a year, probably two whole years at this point, going back to the 2019 Final in St. Louis. Particularly after that goal ejected them from their seats, the raucous Islanders faithful projected confidence and nastiness and, above all, belief.
And this goddamn Brad Marchand piece of crap had to go and ruin it. At 3:36 of the first overtime, the perennial 30-goal scorer—who’s really overstayed his welcome in this sport, if you ask me—took a stupid shot from a terrible angle and somehow, someway, the puck evaded Semyon Varlamov and entered the net. In an instant, Nassau Coliseum was thrust back into the silence of February, and the vile and hated Bruins had taken a 2-1 series lead. I had gotten home by this point, and had no reservations about verbally cussing out my TV when this happened. What kind of horrible, demented man sees thousands of people having the time of their lives, especially after such a dark and ugly 14 months, and decides he wants to shut them all up and send them home unhappy? He should be ashamed of himself.
Marchand’s list of ugly, annoying, unsporting acts is far too long for me to enumerate here, but this one takes the cake. An innocent goalie, a lovable team, an earnest crowd, all torn to shreds just so this lunatic could get off on being a hero back in his city. I suppose the mighty Islanders will have no choice but to return the favor when this series goes back to Massachusetts.