The Stanley Cup Playoffs bring out something different in hockey players, and the look on Casey Cizikas’ (above) face says it all. But what if the Islanders played this kind of desperation and energy all the time?
By now, hockey fans are used to hearing analysts say, “This team’s identity is hard work” or even, “They’re a blue-collar team.” For a lot of teams this is true. However, this young Islanders roster, anchored by 2009 1st overall pick John Tavares, needs to be more than just hard-working, they need to be desperate game in and game out.
We saw what kind record a team that plays with this mentality can put together, just take a look at what the Islanders did from March 3rd through the end of the shortened
2012-2013 season. In case you cannot recall, they went 16-6-5 collecting 37 out of a possible 54 points in the final 27 games. Playoff contender style of play on a consistent basis.
This type of hockey requires a deep team, something the Islanders have managed to put together through their prospect pool, free agency, and the waiver wire. Even as of late with Ľubomír Višňovský being placed on the Injured Reserve List, the Islanders are capable of playing the desperate, workman like game we have seen glimpses of this season.
The only issue is, it has not been consistent, and they need this style of play now more than ever, especially has many of their Metro-Division brethren falter.
Against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Islanders went down 3-0 and 4-1 before a spark helped mount a comeback, something they were able to do the game before against the Edmonton Oilers, but fell short against the Hurricanes
The Islanders do not simply need to outwork other teams, they need to fight for and steal every possible point, especially against division rivals. They need to play every game like they did against the Pittsburgh Penguins in last year’s playoffs. They have shown they can shut down the NHL’s best, they have shown they can score goals, now, they need to be consistently desperate to get back to, and hopefully out of, the first round of the 2014 playoffs.
– JZ (Twitter: @jonzella)