April 23, 2013; Raleigh, NC, USA; New York Islanders centerJohn Tavares
(91) is congratulated by teammates after his 3rd period goal against the Carolina Hurricanes at the PNC center. The Hurricanes defeated the Islanders 4-3 in a shoot out. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Middletown, N. J. – Just like that, the magic number was zero. The New York Islanders are making a return trip to the sweet dance of sixteen who get the privilege of playing for the Stanley Cup.
It certainly did not come easy, as a sloppy and defensively uneven game presented itself last night in Raleigh. It was MVP candidate John Tavares who would lead the Isles back to the land of relevance when his attempted pass for Kyle Okposo deflected off the skate of a Carolina defenseman in front of the net and slid past Dan Ellis with just over a minute to play in the third period. The team would lose in a shootout but with Winnipeg’s loss to Washington, a berth was secured.
The rumors you have heard are true. I married an amazing, beautiful woman 23 years ago and was fortunate in this life to be blessed with two wonderful, hard-working and respectful children, a girl and a boy. But alas, 2 of the 3 are not Islander fans. In fact, they are Ranger fans and have been for the longest time. Rivalry days in my house are never easy but my wife and son have always been respectful and mindful of their conduct and comments. My leading lady went so far as to praise the Isles and their fans, commenting that its good for the game and wishing us luck as we start our postseason march. So a huge thank you to them as they set the example for the ‘other’ half of Ranger fandom that exists out there. Same goes for the half of my friends that I know who bleed blue and some who even see red : respect for my work and what the Isles have truly accomplished this year is much appreciated and reciprocated. For the other half, you will have to read through the rest of Top Shelf to see what I have for you at the end of this post.
- Your playoff clinching recaps are found here : EOI | NY Islanders | Isles PB | LHH | Isles Optimism
- In case you missed it, here are the results of our Duncan Keith poll.
- As the voice of opposition against NHL officiating gets louder, how did the zebras miss this?
- Jarome Iginla had a pretty sweet setup in Calgary.
- You have to really, really like a player to be this committed.
- NHL14 cover vote is on over at EA Sports and John Tavares and Michael Grabner need your help to earn the cover.
- Come play the NHL playoff bracket challenge against the staff at EyesOnIsles. Register and join group ‘eyesonisles’
Floating Around The Twitter-Sphere
- Of course match-ups are going to play a huge part in anyone’s (including ours) playoff brackets but Pat is correct here. Over the last six weeks there have been only three games that might have had me utter this statement. Anyone who claims that is either jealous, mis-informed or the half of the Rangers contingent I spoke of above.
- Exactly Ken. Much of the younger fanbase is reduced to watching youtube videos of the old barn rocking during the early 80s and on the Shawn Bates penalty shot goal against Toronto. This will be their first initiation into just how crazy it can get. And I am positive they will all do their part.
- Matty Marts….the man who keeps us smiling on Twitter and with his rugged play on the ice. It was he who coined the phrases we have uttered over the past week or so, ‘road warriors’ and ‘believe’…We do Matt and best of luck.
- A real solid twitter follow is Dan, very knowledgeable about the game, objective and honest. The anti Keith Jones if you will. This should be screamed to the entire NHL as a sign this team is only going to get better. Relevance when speaking of the Isles is going to be mainstream hockey news for a long time.
Last Night In The NHL
- I would be remiss if I didn’t start here with the Rangers dropping a HUGE two points in Florida last night against the worst team in the Eastern Conference. I have been saying over the last week or so to anyone who would listen that you have to wonder if the ‘resurgence’ of the Rangers was real or just a mirage due to the lack of competition they have been facing. Inconsistency all season has plagued the Blue Shirts and they will take on a Carolina team, that as we saw last night, is not through playing this season no matter where they place in the standings. A true grudge match with everything on the line could face New York Saturday against the Devils if things don’t break the Rangers way. Of course, that is all dependent on the Winnipeg Jets winning their final game of the season.
- Montreal continued to slip and slide, losing to New Jersey 3-2 and you have to wonder just what happened in Montreal to lead to this collapse down the stretch.
- Buffalo shocked Pittsburgh 4-2, Philadelphia turned away the Bruins 5-2 and St.Louis beat Colorado 3-1.
- Of course, we all know the Jets dropped a 5-3 decision to the red hot Capitals, where Alex Ovechkin picked up his 31st of the season, pretty much assuring himself of the Rocket Richard trophy and entering the Hart Trophy discussion.
- Matt Read is in the baseball spirit…..
Ode To The Fans
I have been an Islanders fan since I was six years old. I have seen the glory years and have suffered through the lean years. We are far from a cocky, arrogant bunch. Just a collection of hockey fans who want for their team to be relevant. Are we running through the street proclaiming that the Isles are going to capture the Stanley Cup? No…but we are excited that the team is back, both on and off the ice. The news has rolled in with positivity and if you combine the exciting prospects at Bridgeport with the impending move to Barclays Center, it really is a good time to be an Islanders fan.
I salute the team for their hard work and dedication on the ice but want to especially congratulate our readers and all fellow Islanders fans. As much as the team deserves everything they have accomplished so far, so do we. We have hung in there, took the proverbial daggers in the back and kept on marching forward, sometimes trusting and at other times not trusting that management had the right plan in place. I think those doubts have finally been put to rest. Enjoy the ride….it might get bumpy but it sure beats heading to the links and thinking about winning the draft lottery!
Please check out our new top menu bar – it has been completely redesigned and now features drop-downs for the ‘About’ and ‘Old Barn’ tabs. I am sure you will like what you see.
As promised, this is my signoff to all the fans out there who just kept berating and trolling us, even as we steamrolled through the NHL these last six weeks. You know exactly who you are.