New York Islanders: Potential Playoff Matchups

By Sean Marshall
5 of 6

Dec 20, 2014; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) celebrates his goal with teammates in front of Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas (7) during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Islanders defeated the Lightning 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Lightning

Should the Islanders fall to 4th and the Lightning win the Atlantic then that would be the match up. In three games the Isles went 2-1-0 against the Lightning but, similarly to the Canadiens it is hard to draw too much from the regular season due to the scheduling and the goaltenders as the Lightning took advantage of Chad Johnson just as the Islanders would then light up former team member Evgeni Nabokov days later.

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  • In essence the Islanders and Lightning are almost identical teams, both driven by a world-class center with number 91, very good goaltending from someone with their first real number one role and both are very deep up front (both teams are 1st and 2nd in the East for scoring) with quality young players with both even having their own “kid” line with the Lightning having Kucherov, Johnson and Palat along with the Islanders’ Strome, Nelson and Lee.

    Likelihood of first round match up: Unlikely but still possible but would require the Islanders to fall below Pittsburgh but stay above the 8th seed if the Rangers got the 1st seed which seems inevitable unless they suddenly slump.

    Prediction: It would be a thrilling series but I’d back the Islanders to win in 5/6 as the Lightning are the type of team the Islanders match up against. While Ben Bishop has established himself as one of the better goaltenders in the league, his post season experience as a professional is limited to one AHL appearance in 2011 while Jaroslav Halak has some experience of the play offs along with winning play off series and it is small things like this that could tip the scales when it gets to elimination games.

    Next: The Rivalry