The New York Islanders were counted out from the very beginning. They have continued to prove everyone wrong but the revenge tour is just getting underway.
The New York Islanders have continued to shock the entire league with their elite level of play throughout the majority of the 2018-2019 season. When John Tavares left via free agency on July 1st, nearly everybody, including 17 out of 18 NHL writers, as Brendan Burke pointed out in the playoff-clinching win, picked the Islanders to miss the playoffs.
This season has been a dream come true for Isles’ fans. We have been contenders nearly the entire season, spent months atop the Metropolitan, and gave John Tavares a marvelous welcome back. All that and we’re only getting started.
Who, besides Brian Compton, could have predicted this? This season was pretty much written off as a one where we would be fighting for
; not Lord Stanley’s’ Cup. The Islanders are on a mission to prove everybody who doubted them wrong.
While the regular season winds down as one that no Islander fan will forget for years to come, the real season, the postseason, is getting ready to kick off. While we could only wish that the playoff format was 1 VS 8, 2 VS 7, and so on, which in all likelihood would give us the pure ecstasy of welcoming the Maple Leafs to the barn for the first round games, that is unfortunately not the case.
Although we will not face the Leafs, barring a conference finals showdown, don’t be deterred because the playoffs will be nothing short of storylines. As things stand right now, we will be taking on Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round. While in the 2013 series the Penguins were heavily favored, the Islanders certainly gave them a run for their money. However, Islanders fans memories of that series are pretty much highlighted by none other than John Tavares.
This year will be a chance to rewrite the script. Taking out the division rival Penguins, who we have an extremely rich history of brawls and playoff battles with, would do just that. It would diminish the memory of those 2013 playoffs and potentially usher the team into a deep run for The Cup.
We, as fans, did not have the luxury of going into the regular season optimistic, so I am going to take that opportunity now. Looking beyond the first round, we would most likely face another frequent foe; the Washington Capitals.
The Capitals are a team that walked away from their former Stanley Cup-winning coach, Barry Trotz. They are a team that has gotten the better of us quite recently in the 2015 playoffs. Facing them in the second round would surely be a highly emotional series for Trotz, who is looking to bring his underdog, rag-tag, run and gun group of misfits to the promised land.
Just making it to the playoffs for the Islanders was considered a massive accomplishment. Knowing you underdogs from the very beginning lights a fire under a team. In a second-round matchup with the reigning champion Capitals, the Isles are sure to be overlooked once again. We have seen just how far that fire can propel us this season and I expect nothing less in a matchup with Washington.
And so, the playoffs would most likely continue on with a matchup against either the Lightning, Bruins, or Maple Leafs. While playing the Leafs, would be nothing short of spectacular, that is a long ways away and so much would have to go right for it to occur.
New York Islander fans- No matter what anyone else around the league says, just remember that we have been counted out since July 1st and this team is nowhere near done playing hockey yet. The revenge tour is just starting to really heat up. Barry Trotz has all of the players believing that they will continue to “prove people wrong” and there is no reason why the fans should think anything else. Buckle up, because it’s going to be a wild ride for this team. We’re just getting started.