Astoria, NY – There was plenty of action across the NHL last night, with three Conference Semifinal matchups on the schedule. As far as good TV nights go, last night was pretty high on the list.
Hockey fans are in the midst of the best time of year, with playoff games nearly every night over the course of six weeks. And despite the lockout-shortened season that brought us to this point, the postseason intensity and high caliber of play from the remaining teams has been enough to draw even the most cynical NHL fan back into the fold.
Although the Islanders were eliminated in the first round at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins, there’s still plenty to watch for as the playoff bracket continues. If nothing else, Isles fans can use this time to scout potential free-agent signings; there’s no doubt that general manager Garth Snow is doing the same.
Players like Marian Hossa, Pascal Dupuis and Jimmy Howard are all slated to become free agents this summer. Even if the exercise of creating a fantasy lineup is unrealistic by nature, it’s still fun to watch these players and wonder what they could do as members of the Isles…
But enough about potential shopping lists; besides, it’s not my money that Snow will be spending this offseason. Let’s get to the rest of ‘Top Shelf.’
John Tavares, Unscripted (EyesOnIsles)
New York Islanders Should Make a Run at Roberto Luongo (Rant Sports)
Potential Isles Draft Choices – Zachary Fucale (Isles Optimism)
Penguins Shelled Craig Anderson, What Does That Say About Evgeni Nabokov? (Islanders Point Blank)
Floating Around The Twitter-Sphere
— NHL Rumor Mill (@NHL_rumor_mill) May 24, 2013
Not Islanders-related but still: logo changes are at least somewhat interesting and worth noting. It appears that after an 11th-place finish in the Western Conference this year, the Dallas Stars have decided to revamp their look. The new logo is clean and slightly futuristic. While team ownership undoubtedly hopes it will spark merchandise sales, the fans are just hoping it’ll spark winning.
— joe sgaraglio(@Joey_Sgrags) May 24, 2013
For the first time in six years, Isles fans aren’t holding their breath for a draft pick that will push this team over the hump and allow it to contend for the Stanley Cup. It’s a new era on Long Island, one led by John Tavares, Travis Hamonic and Kyle Okposo. If you haven’t jumped on the Isles bandwagon yet, there might not be any room for you at this point.
— JAKE! (@IsleJugment) May 24, 2013
No matter what NHL team you root for, it’s exciting to see a packed house for Islanders home games again, as best exemplified during the team’s brief playoff run. (Unless you’re a fan of a divisional rival of the Isles. In that case, you’re probably not thrilled about Isles Nation revitalizing the home ice advantage at the Coliseum.)
— JohnnyC1221 (@JohnnyC1221) May 24, 2013
Roughly four and a half months from now, the Islanders will be taking the ice for the 2013-14 NHL season opener. It may seem like a long time off, but with intensity like this from the fans, the time will fly by. And with the rivalry in New York alive and well, we can’t wait for next season either, Johnny.
Last Night In The NHL
Boston Bruins vs. New York Rangers (BOS 3-1)
The New York Rangers staved off elimination – and a sweep – at the hands of the Boston Bruins last night, winning Game 4 of their series 4-3 in overtime.
Chris Kreider buried a beautiful cross-ice pass from Rick Nash at 7:03 of the extra frame to give the Rangers the win and the chance to play another day. Game 5 will be played in Boston on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
The Rangers trailed the Bruins 2-0 and 3-2 in last night’s game, battling back each time to tie the game and eventually force sudden death. New York benefitted from a couple of goaltending miscues by Tuukka Rask, but they’ll take the win and move on to the next game.
Perhaps this team has Boston thinking about the 3-0 series lead they blew to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010, now that the Rangers are on the board in the series. As Kreider said in his postgame interview, there was no quit in the New York room. They have a tough road ahead, but it appears that they might be up to the challenge.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Detroit Red Wings (DET 3-1)
The Detroit Red Wings got goals from Jakub Kindl (PP) and Dan Cleary (EN), and outstanding goaltending from Jimmy Howard en route to a 2-0 victory at home against the Western Conference’s no. 1-seeded Chicago Blackhawks.
Chicago had the better scoring chances and generally outplayed Detroit during the game, but came out on the losing end. Howard stopped all 28 Blackhawks shots he faced, including several close-range chances that had Chicago players shaking their heads in frustration.
Kindl’s goal came at 10:03 of the second period, effectively breaking the stalemate that had been going on since the game’s opening faceoff.
The Red Wings again held Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews pointless, stifling his game to the point that he took three consecutive penalties in the second period. As the series shifts back to Chicago for Game 5, Toews will have to figure out a way to get going, otherwise the Blackhawks could be looking at a disappointing playoff exit.
San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings (LA 3-2)
Jonathan Quick proved again that last year’s stellar run of form during the Los Angeles Kings’ Stanley Cup run was no fluke, as he blanked the San Jose Sharks in Game 5 of their second-round series last night.
Quick made 24 saves in the game – none more impressive than his late third-period glove stop on Joe Pavelski – giving his teammates all they would need to earn the victory, 3-0 over the Sharks.
The Kings now lead the series 3-2 and will have the opportunity to earn a Conference Finals berth in San Jose on Sunday. Anze Kopitar, Slava Voynov – yes that Slava Voynov – and Jeff Carter all recorded goals for the Kings.
Quick now has 27 career postseason wins, good for first on the Kings franchise goaltending playoff wins list. Fans in Los Angeles are hoping to see his 28th this weekend.
Kreider nets the overtime winner in New York…
Jimmy Howard’s case for Play of the Night honors…
Quick robs Pavelski on the doorstep…
As always, thanks for reading us at EyesOnIsles. Keep it right here for all of your NHL playoff coverage and Isles offseason news. Be sure to check the menu bar at the top of the page for ways to connect with the EyesOnIsles staff, as we’re always happy to talk hockey.