Middletown, N . J. – An often used phrase in sports that can be used to describe a team on the rise to relevancy is ‘you need to learn how to lose before you can know how to win’. That could not be more true on this somber Sunday morning after the New York Islanders were eliminated by the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 in overtime, closing out their best of seven Eastern conference quarter-final series.
The Penguins are moving on by virtue of their 4 games to 2 edge in the series but it was not at all easy. The pesky, gritty and gutty Islanders gave them all they could handle and in a strange twist of events could have possibly spurned the Pens to a Stanley Cup run.
How is that? I am glad you asked.
The Penguins now realize they can not win on talent alone, that they can be outworked and that their number one priority when they get back to practice is in their defensive zone. The Isles forechecked and caused many turnovers in addition to employing a 1-2-2 forecheck that proved to be very effective in slowing the transition through the neutral zone. A series that many predicted would end in a sweep with the Isles standing no chance (especially after a 5-0 Pens win in game one) actually ended up being one where New York outplayed Pittsburgh realistically in 4 of the 6 games. Lady luck would not smile however on Long Island, only give us a glimpse of what lies ahead.
Every Islanders fan should be proud of how far this club has come and what they accomplished this season. It has put them back on the map of NHL relevancy and make so many in the hockey world stand up and take notice. We got a brief glimpse of that future last night as head coach Jack Capuano dressed Brock Nelson and he did not look out-of-place being thrust into such an important game on the biggest stage. Playing 7:44, Brock was a physical force and showed tremendous skating ability and stride. He looked responsible defensively and kept up with the speed and pace.
When you also factor in Ryan Strome, Griffin Reinhart, Matt Donovan and dare I say, Calvin DeHaan you can see why the Islanders are going to remain annual playoff challengers and possibly even more in the upcoming seasons. The excitement of the move to Barclays Center looms on the horizon as well as free agent opportunities that they might not have had in the past.
But it doesn’t stop there. An MVP candidate, an absolute work horse in the corners, a smooth transitional defenseman and one of the fastest skaters in the league also litter this roster of lunch pail, bring it every night hockey players. The Islanders team speed was truly all the Pens could handle in this series and at times made the number one seed in the East look rather ordinary and slow.
So, let it sink in….the sting from the series result is not a positive one for the players but once the hangover fades (and they all do) it is very easy to see the path that lies before this team. A path to relevance, winning hockey and a culmination of years of rebuilding. For we are no longer the doormat for other teams as they march to the playoffs and give themselves a chance to hoist the most famous trophy in sports. We are right there beside them earning our own chance.
- Game Recaps and reaction : LHH | WFAN | NY Post
- John Tavares reflects on his first playoff series
- Newsday on the renewed and energized fan base
- Pittsburgh Tribune reflects and thanks the Isles for exposing Pittsburgh
- Sidney Crosby gives the Isles respect and says ‘They will be in playoffs again’
- Finally, Katie Strang of ESPN writes about the new found respect the Isles have garnered around the league
From Around The Twitter-Sphere
Ugh, I have #Isles hockey hangover…I feel like Charlie Brown after Lucy pulls the football away and he lands on his back. Is it Oct. yet?
— Steve Alu (@SA3886) May 12, 2013
- It will fade Steve…Shock was more the feeling I had last night and this morning. Watched the entire second, third and OT periods standing up in my living room and when Orpik scored, stared at the TV for five minutes.
But, I don’t want to shave off my beard today.#isles
— Kevin Hartmann (@KevinH_NYI) May 12, 2013
- I have to admit, I kind of liked the way mine came in towards the end there and after reading a poll online that women find men with facial hair to be more attractive, I have decided to keep it. HeeHee
— Nicholas Niceforo (@NickNice100293) May 12, 2013
- Well said Nick and drives home the tone of my opener above. There is nothing to feel down about. This team will show the resiliency that it had on the ice off as well with some good hockey moves this summer to continue building to the ultimate goal.
#isles did themselves proud on playoff run.Showed incredible growth and will be a fun team to watch in future.
— Steve Kee (@steve_kee) May 12, 2013
- Everyone who was at the game and cheering at home should have stood and applauded what the Islanders provided us with this season. The only thing that annoyed me was that there were empty seats when the Isles were taking their last lap around the Coliseum ice. If that is the kind of fan you want to be, maybe you shouldn’t come back.
— MIchael Wilson (@MikeW1lson) May 12, 2013
- I think you are not nearly alone Michael in that feeling. A lot of people were calling for him to be fired at the end of February and some of the lineup changes made us really stand by that thinking. But you are correct he had this team, for the most part, ready to play most nights in these playoffs. Further establishing consistency will be key to moving the ship forward.
#Isles theme song for next year: Chumbawamba’s Tubthumping.
— Neil R (@IslesPunkFan) May 12, 2013
- Outstanding Neil. A perfect choice and the lyrics match up perfectly with how everyone should feel entering the off-season.
Around The NHL
- Isles-Pens was the only game on the ledger last night for the NHL, but as we look ahead to Sunday’s mother’s day action, there are several important games that could decide the fates of others.
- Washington will travel to Madison Square Garden and try to eliminate the New York Rangers at 4:30 EST
- Boston tries to put pesky Toronto to sleep at 7:00 EST
- Detroit and Anaheim will play what should be an epic game seven at 10:00 EST
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There is no off-season here at Fansided and EyesOnIsles.com – we will continue to bring you breaking opinion and editorials starting with our season recap, individual player report cards, stay or go features, draft and free agency coverage and so much more! So don’t tune us out just because the weather turns gorgeous and the team is on vacation! Keep it locked in as we fly with you directly to September training camp. I promise the ride will be much smoother as we seem to have found a nice pocket of air.