The New York Islanders are fresh off their first playoff series win in 23 years, now fans are expecting a deep playoff run. How do they deal with it?
As a relatively young Islander fan I can say that it’s been rare for my New York Islanders to have real expectations. It wasn’t until a few days after my 21st birthday when the Islanders clinched their first playoff series win in my lifetime.
Through most of my fandom every argument I’ve ever gotten into with fans of the other New York team ended with one phrase: “1993”.
It signified the last time the Islanders moved on past the first round. It was a dig, that was meant to signify years of irrelevance and half empty arenas (sometimes even less than that). But that’s all young Islander fans knew, the lack of expectations.
It wasn’t until their final year at the Coliseum when they got off to a great start where you felt like there was expectations for this team. After a 2-1 series lead, and a dramatic win against the Washington Capitals, we thought could this be the year?
It wasn’t, a brutal Game 7 performance left us with a sour taste in our mouths, the old phrase returned “maybe next year”.
The 2015-2016 regular season had lots of ups and downs and it was a rocky transition for the Islanders into their new home. Though it will be a year that no one will forget because the Islanders finally escaped the clutches of the dreaded first round exit.
Some teams play better with no expectations. Hey, look at the 2012-2013 Islanders they almost bounced the top seeded Penguins in the first round. Hell if they had a legit goalie they probably would have.
The one thing that scares me about this young group of guys is dealing with expectations. That’s why I think it’s important to bring in vets like Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera. They’ve been around the block a few times.
It seems cliche to say that a guy knows how to win, but I’ll say it anyway: Ladd knows how to win.
The Islanders are a team built around youth, they don’t have a ton of experience. The guys who departed were long time Islanders and were mostly on teams with not a lot of expectations. They shared the same playoff experience as the younger guys.
Bringing in veterans who know what it takes to go on a long playoff run is something the Islanders needed to do. Sure they have Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy who’ve done it, but which one of their forwards from the last couple of years has been on a long playoff run? None.
Expectations can crumble teams, some teams don’t thrive well under pressure. The veteran experience that Garth Snow added this year will only help the Islanders chances of dealing with high expectations.
They still might not be championship ready, but they’re a hell of a lot closer than they were last year.