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Top Shelf : Islanders Daily : 4/21/2013

Apr 20, 2013; Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; New York Islanders players celebrate a goal by forward Matt Martin (17) during the second period against the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Center. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Middletown, N. J. – Three….That is the number to keep in mind as the Islanders head into a well deserved two-day break from the rigors of playoff chase hockey. The magic number to qualify for the sweet round of sixteen shrinks again as the Isles win a shootout (in more ways than one) in Winnipeg 5-4.  Pretty it certainly was not, but then again, at this point in the season the mantra probably should be ‘expect the unexpected’.

The Islanders came in as obviously the hottest team in hockey now over a 10-1-2 run(I will give Jack Edwards a pass for saying the Pens were on NHL Network yesterday) and did nothing to dispel that assumption, although the defense left a little to be desired at times. Allowing only 21 goals in their previous 13, they were plagued by blown assignments and very choppy ice that led to the puck becoming closer to a tennis ball than a frozen discus of rubber. A Lubomir Visnovsky save in overtime saved the Isles bacon and Hart Trophy candidate John Tavares sealed the deal in the shootout.

What more can you ask of this team? They are consistently playing hard, never seem to be out of a game no matter what the scoreboard might say and the first line is getting hot at just the right time after struggling for the better part of three weeks. With the Eastern Conference, in my opinion, up for grabs, this is a team that will give opponents plenty to handle come the playoffs, which only an epic collapse can prevent at this point.

Sitting On The Bridge

With Bridgeport being eliminated from the American Hockey League Playoffs, they will finish out their regular season with a home finale against the Portland Pirates at 3pm this afternoon.

Last night, they were shutout by the Providence Bruins 3-0 as Anders Nilsson made his first start since January 26. You can catch the game recap right here at the official Sound Tigers website.

Links

  • Last nights game recaps from EOE | NHL.com | Islanders.com
  • Voting opens Monday to select this years cover boy for EA Sports fantastic hockey title, NHL14. John Tavares and Michael Grabner were selected to represent the orange and blue in the process. Go vote here.
  • As the Isles continue to roll, be careful of what to expect and manage those expectations, dare we fall victim to Rangers-itis.
  • ICYMI…Here is the recap of Chris Botta’s conversation with Islanders owner Charles Wang on the impending move to Brooklyn.

Floating Around The Twitter-sphere

  • Those of us lucky enough (old enough?) to see Bossy glide up and down the ice for the Islanders will definately have no argument here Craig. To this day, for my money, Boss still has one of the quickest releases I have ever seen. And I do mean ever (over 35 years of watching hockey).
  • To come back after such an extended absence and jump right into a game of this size speaks volumes about what the Isles think of their latest waiver wire gold nugget. He logged 15:56 of ice time yesterday and should be full speed by playoff time.
  • If you don’t follow Hornick and are an Isles fan, what are you waiting for? Where do you think Howie/Jiggs/Butch get all their stats from that they provide during commentary? Absolutely outstanding analysis each and every time.
  • This one gave me a good chuckle (pretty hard to do on a Sunday morning) and sums up the excitement all around Islanders nation. The team is playing outstanding and returning to relevance. One thing about Isles fans is that our excitement is often confused with cockiness. After 20 plus years of mediocrity, the bottom line is we DESERVE to be excited.

Last Night In The NHL

  • Pittsburgh continues to amaze without the best player in the world, as Sydney Crosby is still working his way back from the horrific injury suffered in the game against the Islanders. They beat an obviously emotional Boston Bruins squad yesterday 3-2, despite being outshot 40-24. This raises an interesting question for the Pens however? Vokoun or Fleury?
  • The Devils welcomed back superstar Ilya Kovalchuk and promptly disposed of the hapless Florida Panthers at home 6-2. Kovalchuk is back just in time to wreak some havoc on the Rangers as the rivals play each other twice in the seasons final week, starting today at 3pm.
  • Washington maintained their Southweak division lead on the Jets, crushing the suddenly very ordinary Montreal Canadiens 5-1. Alex Ovechkin continues to be absolutely en fuego, notching goals # 29 and 30.
  • Toronto bested the Senators in Ottawa 4-1, allowing the Islanders to rightfully claim 6th place in the Eastern Conference. News got better for the Sens however, as reigning Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson is back skating the club and hopes to make a playoff return. The win clinched a playoff berth for the Leafs.
  • Vancouver downed Detroit in the skills competition, winning 2-1. The Red Wings are in danger of not making the playoffs for the first time since, well, I can’t even remember. Seems so long ago it might have been before I was even born. (1990 is the real answer btw)

Here is the Lubo save in overtime yesterday that allowed the Isles to claim the bonus point….

Hysterical video of Stephen Gionta getting checked ONTO the ice, after falling into the Panthers bench…

Current Eastern Conference Standings

 

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Tags: Isles Jets John Tavares Lubomir Visnovsky Playoffs Top Shelf

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