As the 2014-15 dwindles down, the potential first-round playoff matchup discussions start to hit us hard. Which team would the Islanders rather to see?
Can you feel it yet? I sure can.
It’s that feeling of nervous energy while you sit at your desk today, pretending to do your job correctly. Or, you’re going through the motions on that construction crew while thoughts of John Tavares and Conn Smythe together are more than enough to put a ridiculous smirk on your face.
“What the hell is he smirking about,” one of your co-workers is thinking.
You’re dreaming about New York Islanders Stanley Cup glory, and it’s enough where you could hardly contain yourself on a day to day basis.
The question for us nuts is this: which team do you want the Isles to face in the first-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
About two months ago the thought of who the Isles would face in the first-round took a back seat to how incredible this team was playing. Now, though, it has become much more important.
Listen, we must live in the real world. This team has not yet gathered themselves from their most recent struggles. A record of 3-4-3 in their last 10 and falling into an uncharacteristic tailspin since the last Rangers game is a very real thing.
Only eight games remain for the club to find its playoff gear.
The prime suspect for Isles first-round matchup comes in the form of the team they faced two seasons ago.
Mar 24, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) talks with linesman Don Henderson (91) during a time-out against the St. Louis Blues during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. St. Louis won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
During the 2012-13 playoffs, Tavares and a young Isles team gave Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins everything they could handle in six tough games. It was their first playoff appearance since 2007 and signaled a chance in franchise philosophy.
If the season ended today the Penguins would be the opponent.
The Isles have taken three out of four against Crosby’s Pens this season, outscoring them 15-11. Aside from the first game all the way back on October 18, the Isles have handled this team all year long.
April 10th (the second to last game of the year) will mark the team’s final matchup.
Another possible first-round opponent is the Washington Capitals and the scoring machine that is Alexander Ovechkin. They’ve also played the Caps well all year long with a 2-1-1 record. However, the Caps actually outscored New York 13-11.
Both teams have star power. Both teams have solid, not superstar goalies. The answer might come down to the overall makeup of each team.
These are not the Penguins we remember a half decade ago. They don’t have the plethora of two-way guys like they used to. Jordan Staal is not there anymore. Their identity has taken a major hit during the past few playoffs.
The Caps on the other hand, do present the feeling of a little more toughness and perhaps more of a thirst to do some damage in the tournament. Ovechkin has probably made it a personal vendetta to get to the finals.
Add that onto the fact the Pens probably do not want to see the Isles after the scare of two seasons ago, I’ll take my chances with the Penguins any day.
Also, the better scenario lies with the Isles keeping the No. 2 seed to avoid the the possibility of the Boston Bruins or those ridiculously hot Ottawa Senators.
Bring it on Sidney Crosby, the Isles will be ready.