Top Shelf – Islanders Daily 5/17/13
By Michael Willhoft
May 11, 2013; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) spars with Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Craig Adams (27) while center Joe Vitale (46) is hit by New York Islanders center Keith Aucoin (10) while officials Jay Sharrers (57) and Lonnie Cameron (74) break up a fight between New York Islanders left wing Matt Martin (17) and Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Matt Cooke (24) and New York Islanders defenseman Mark Streit (2) in front of New York Islanders defenseman Radek Martinek (4) and goalie Evgeni Nabokov (20) during the second period of game six of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Penguins won the game 4-3 and won the series 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Astoria, NY – After a “normal” season for the New York Islanders, I’d venture to say that watching the NHL playoffs would be a welcome diversion for Isles fans. Getting to see the top teams in the league battle it out for postseason glory, night-in and night-out for six weeks: it provided an outlet, a chance to see hockey played at its highest level.
But now that the Islanders have turned the corner and are making good on their promise to rebuild the franchise, the 2013 season was anything but “normal” for this team. Reaching the playoffs and taking the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins to six games proved that postseason hockey will be the expectation for the Isles for years to come.
This doesn’t mean I’ll be turning off the TV and skipping my usual routine of watching the playoffs; I love watching hockey too much. It only means that while watching the games, I’ll have to fight to keep from telling myself that the Islanders could have beaten any of the remaining teams in the Eastern Conference.
Basically, I’m not watching this year’s edition of the postseason as a diversion. I’m watching the games this year like a team scout, comparing the relative strength of each team to that of the Islanders. (And maybe – okay definitely – playing out hypothetical games in my mind, pitting the Isles against the Rangers, Bruins or Ottawa Senators.)
Not to sound like a sore loser, but I truly believe the Islanders would have done well had they beaten the Penguins in the first round. And after watching a listless first period in last night’s Game 1 between the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins, I’m convinced that the Isles would’ve given either team all it could handle in a seven-game series.
The NHL playoffs are always exciting, and I’ll always enjoy watching the remaining teams march towards a potential Stanley Cup – seriously, who didn’t enjoy the Los Angeles Kings’ run last year?
But this time, I’ll have to content myself with waiting until October, waiting until next year to see my Islanders take another step towards achieving their full potential.
Next year, man. Next year.
Moulson Named Lady Byng Finalist (Too Many Men On The Site)
Competition For Roster Spots Led To Islander’s 2013 Success (NHL.com)
Islanders Playoff Story Ends, But A Better Team Looms On The Horizon (CBS New York)
Closing The Coliseum Doors: Islanders Offseason Begins (EyesOnIsles)
Floating Around The Twitter-Sphere
With two Islanders players being named finalists for the NHL’s end-of-season awards, it appears that the national media is starting to pay attention to the skill level of the team on Long Island. Here’s hoping the voters recognize the efforts of John Tavares and Matt Moulson; if the team couldn’t win the Stanley Cup, at least there is individual hardware up for grabs.
The #NHL14Tavares cover vote push is alive and well in the Twitterverse, as evidenced by the thousands of times this hashtag appeared on my timeline yesterday. It’ be tough to argue that Tavares isn’t worth of being chosen as EA’s cover boy for this year’s edition of the game. Let’s make it happen, Isles fans; get out there and vote.
Again, the topic of Evgeni Nabokov’s underwhelming postseason performance comes into play, but it’s hard to argue with this statement. Considering the lack of energy displayed by both the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers during the first period last night, it appears that the Islanders would’ve had a great chance to win a series against either team. Alas, there’s always next year.
This pretty much says it all. Isles Nation is excited for next season, but not because we’re eager to put this season behind us. We’re excited because the future is bright and seeing this team compete for the Stanley Cup is becoming a very real possibility.
Last Night In The NHL
New York Rangers vs. Boston Bruins (BOS 1-0)
The Boston Bruins took Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal against the New York Rangers last night, winning 3-2 in overtime. Brad Marchand scored the game-wining goal for the Bruins, taking a nice cross-ice pass from Patrice Bergeron and sliding the puck past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist at 15:40 of the extra frame.
The goal came on a two-on-one break in which Marchand beat New York’s Mats Zuccarello to the front of the net and was able to tip home Bergeron’s feed from the right half-boards.
In allowing the three Boston goals, Lundqvist wasn’t his usual phenomenal self in net; he had his playoff shutout streak snapped at 152 minutes and 23 seconds. After blanking the Washington Capitals in Games 6 and 7 of the opening round, Lundqvist was unable to keep the Bruins from scoring.
Marchand and Zdeno Chara finished the night with a goal and an assist each, leading the Boston attack. Despite needing seven games – and an historic comeback in Game 7 – against the Toronto Maple Leafs in their first-round series, the Bruins were prepared for the Rangers, and it showed on the scoreboard.
Game 2 will be played Sunday at 3:00 p.m. ET at TD Garden, when the Rangers will look to even the series.
San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings (LA 2-0)
Despite surrendering a two-goal lead at one point, the Los Angeles Kings found a way to beat the San Jose Sharks for the second time in the series, winning 4-3 at Staples Center last night.
The Kings scored two goals less than one minute apart – and with less than two minutes remaining in regulation time – to steal a victory against the no. 6-seeded Sharks in a game it appeared they were unlikely to win.
Los Angeles led 2-0 in the second period until three unanswered goals by Patrick Marleau, Brad Stuart and Marc-Edouard Vlasic gave the Sharks the lead at the midway point of the third.
San Jose was able to utilize quick passes and heavy screens in front of Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick to score their goals; unfortunately for the Sharks, late-game penalties by Stuart and Vlasic led to a sustained Los Angeles advantage and eventually, two goals to seal the win.
Dustin Brown and Trevor Lewis found the back of the net, beating Sharks goalie Antti Niemi at the game’s most critical juncture. The series will shift to San Jose on Saturday, where these teams will play Game 3 at 9:00 p.m. ET.
Rangers vs. Bruins 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.