April 11, 2013; Boston, MA USA; New York Islanders centerJosh Bailey
(12) celebrates after defeating the Boston Bruins 2-1at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
It’s no secret that the New York Islanders are no longer the NHL Eastern Conference’s perennial doormat. GM Garth Snow’s long-term rebuild has come to fruition and the team is positioned to become a legitimate Stanley Cup contender relatively soon.
While fans of the club may have seen the transition from “also-ran” to “postseason shoe-in” coming, the national media hadn’t caught on to the team’s rise until this past season, when the Islanders gave the Pittsburgh Penguins all they could handle in a hard-fought opening-round playoff series.
Last night, MSG showcased a pivotal game in the Islanders’ 2012-13 season: the gritty 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins—at TD Garden in Boston, MA—from Apr. 11. Evgeni Nabokov was brilliant, only allowing a single goal and making several big saves. Josh Bailey scored both Islanders goals, showcasing the offensive talent that made him a top-ten pick in 2008.
Most notable from the win, though, was the fact that the Isles were on an 8-1-1 run at the time, the likes of which hadn’t been seen from the club in years. In short, the Islanders weren’t just treading water; they were winning the types of games that playoff-bound teams win.
The win in Boston signified a sea change in terms of how the Islanders were perceived by the fan base. No longer was this team the type of club that rolled over in a tough spot. Going into TD Garden and grinding out a tough win over the eventual Stanley Cup finalists proved to those following the Isles that the players in blue and orange were for real.
Re-watching the tape of that game last night, it was evident that the Islanders players expected to win that game from the get-go. Going into the 2013-14 season, it’s apparent that this expectation has been adopted as standard locker room culture on Long Island.
All the fans have to do is remember games like the 2-1 win over Boston to know that their hockey team has raised the bar for itself.
In Case You Missed It
New York Islanders: 1975-1980, the Rise of an Unstoppable Force (Eyes On Isles)
The Islanders at Yankee Stadium (The Hockey Writers)
Summer Q: Which NHLer to Add to the New York Islanders Lineup? (Lighthouse Hockey)
PHT Morning Skate: Looking Ahead to 2014 World Juniors (Pro Hockey Talk)
Two Minutes For Tweeting
Nice shot of John Tavares throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the New York Yankees game last night. My only question? Who are those other two guys on the field with him?
The Long Island “marriage criteria” list: where this ranks near the top. (And if she’s a season ticket holder, I’m assuming the save-the-date cards are already in the mail.)
Oh, hey Cal. I knew you’d be around here somewhere.
The Islanders. They’re everywhere. Even potentially in your office.
Rich saya what we’re all thinking. Sure, the summer is great for things like scorching heat waves and non-hockey news and pointless press conferences, but October offers what we all need in the way of NHL action. Is there someone we can talk to about flipping the calendar to fall already?
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