May 11, 2013; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) and Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) shake hands after the overtime period of game six of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Pittsburgh won the game 4-3 and the series 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Astoria, NY – It was locker room cleanout and exit interview day on Long Island yesterday, as the players, coaches and Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum maintenance crew officially closed the books on the lockout-shortened 2013 NHL season.
Despite the disappointing first-round playoff exit, the quotes from the players and coaches were hopeful. At the end of any season there’s always a tendency to look to the future, but with this particular Islanders team, it wasn’t just talk for talk’s sake.
John Tavares was quoted as saying he has many areas of his game in which he can make improvement – the rest of the NHL responded by saying, “He’s kidding…right?” – while Kyle Okposo complimented the fans on making the Coliseum a truly formidable home-ice advantage during the postseason.
The EYES staff agrees with Okposo on that point; having experienced the fervor of the crowds at the Coli for Games 3, 4 and 6, we’re as excited for next season as the team is. When the ‘Old Barn’ is rocking, visiting clubs will have a tough task when playing the Isles.
The Islanders offseason will truly be worth watching this summer, and not for the sole reason of seeing whom the team will choose with a top-3 draft pick – those days are gone. With cap space and prospect depth, free agency and the battle for roster spots will provide plenty of excitement for Isles fans.
Keep it here at EyesOnIsles for everything Islanders as we track the news throughout the summer months.
Considering how well the franchise is positioned going into the offseason, those chants of “WE-WANT-PLAY-OFFS!” that emanated from Section 329 at the end of the regular season will likely change to chants of “WE-WANT-THE CUP!” next year.
The future is bright for this team; players and fans alike have reason to be proud of the direction the franchise is heading.
Floating Around The Twitter-Sphere
Agreed, Pat. Even though the Isles only recently finished their season, we at EYES are already looking forward to the 2013-14 NHL season. If you haven’t circled Oct. 7 – the NHL’s likely opening night – on your calendar, do it now.
The team took a big step forward this season, hopefully showing signs of the things to come for the franchise over the next decade or so. With the amount of blue-chip prospects in the system and the amount of cap space GM Garth Snow will have to work with, the Islanders are set up to finally bring the rebuild to fruition sooner rather than later.
If by “problem,” you mean, “undying love for the Islanders,” then yes, you have a “problem.” (I, for one, see nothing wrong with watching exit interview clips until the wee hours. Maybe that’s just me, though.)
It’s a sad sight, but the Isles will be back – and better than ever – in a few short months; they’ll be looking to add to those banners you see hanging in the rafters in this photo.
Last Night In The NHL
Ottawa Senators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (PIT 1-0)
The Pittsburgh Penguins took care of business at CONSOL Energy Center last night, beating the visiting Ottawa Senators 4-1 in the first game of their second-round best-of-seven series.
Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz each notched a goal and an assist in the win, while goaltender Tomas Vokoun recorded 35 saves.
Ottawa looked overmatched after tying the game at 1 at 4:51 of the opening period; Pittsburgh’s offensive prowess proved to be too much for the Senators to handle, as the Penguins took the lead for good at the halfway point of the first period.
Pascal Dupuis’s shorthanded goal in the third period was the backbreaker, although the Senators did show some feistiness before the final whistle; four different Ottawa players were assessed penalties at 19:31 of the third period, including two 10-minute misconduct penalties given to Zack Smith and Chris Neil.
Game 2 will be played Friday night, giving both teams two days off to prepare.
San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings (LA 1-0)
The first round in the ‘Battle of California’ went to the Los Angeles Kings by a score of 2-0 over the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference semifinal series opener.
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick showed why a hot goaltender can be capable of carrying a team in the playoffs, as he stopped 35 shots in a shutout performance; Quick knew he had to play well to outduel Vezina trophy nominee Antti Niemi at the other end of the ice.
San Jose gave up a late first-period goal to Slava Voynov at 19:41, which ended up being the game-winning tally.
Voynov recorded an assist on the second Kings goal, feeding Mike Richards – who also had two points in the game – to put Los Angeles up 2-0 in the second period.
The shutout was the sixth of Quick’s playoff career; if his form last night was any indication of his future performance, we may witness a repeat of last year’s performance by Los Angeles.
Kings fans wouldn’t mind another unexpected march to the Stanley Cup, I’m sure. One game does not a series make, however; San Jose will be ready to go in Game 2 Thursday night at 10:00 p.m. ET.
Senators vs. Penguins game highlights…
Sharks vs. Kings game highlights…
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.