The New York Islanders are writing their own storyline this year. The teams’ play has stirred feelings akin to the movies “Rudy”, “Major League”, and the “Mighty Ducks.”
On Monday, I said that the New York Islanders needed a hero. On Wednesday they did not disappoint. The most visible player on the score sheet might just be Josh Bailey with the game-winning goal in overtime, a veritable redo on a shot that he had with under five seconds in regulation. And how fitting that the longest tenured Islander would score the pivotal goal.
However, the winning goal wouldn’t have been possible without another OT Matt Barzal breakaway in which he slowed down the play fooling both Dumoulin and Matt Murray. Barzal’s poise makes his shoulders seem destined for a hero mantle.
Robin Lehner was no slouch. During the second period as he stood on his head to keep the New York Islanders in the game. He was also the first to criticize the Islanders win for not being their style of hockey.
New York Islanders Wear a Chip on their Shoulders
Jordan Eberle put his 2017 Oilers Stanley Cup performance behind him, scoring his first career goal in the playoffs in the first period. He also added an assist on Brock Nelson’s Power Play goal in the second. Eberle’s play down the stretch and in Game 1 gives him some serious Hero points and something for Lou Lamoriello to chew on as he enters free agency.
Scott Mayfield has been playing with a purpose of late. Sensing Evgeni Malkin’s frustration, Mayfield instigated an exchange which resulted in the two of them taking minors for roughing. While Malkin did score, his tensions were palpable. At one point jabbing at Tom Kuhnackl who had run into Murray on the breakaway.
Pelech and Pulock were able to keep Sidney Crosby’s line relatively quiet, though how Sid did not score on the wraparound in the third is beyond comprehension. Neither Crosby nor Jake Guentzal connected on any of their multiple shots, which felt remarkable. Mayfield, Pelech, and Pulock stepped up and get some Hero points as well.
Lastly, the Barn was rocking. There were moments on the television broadcast that the announcers were clearly straining to be heard. AJ Mleczko’s voice sounded raw by the end of the third period. The Islanders Fifth Line was rocking all night long. If Josh Bailey was the games hero then the barn was the Trojan Horse. Home ice truly seemed to make a difference.
This grit from both players and fans alike is like a real-life David and Goliath, something out of popular fiction, a storybook season. The Isles have 15 more games to win. Who will play the hero in game 2?
Possible Lineups for Both Teams
New York Islanders
Beauvilier is probable for game two according to Barry Trotz. Expect Michael Dal Colle to step in if need be for the Islanders.
Barry Trotz is obviously not making any changes to his roster. Unless Beau can’t recover from whatever was ailing him yesterday. After the way the Islanders played in game one, there’s no reason for Trotz to make any changes.
Jack Johnson is reported to be a healthy scratch for the second straight game for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Otherwise, coach Mike Sullivan won’t make any changes that were an overtime goal away from winning game one.
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Puck drop is at 7:30 pm at the Nassau Coliseum. Can the same players step up once again for the New York Islanders? Or will new heroes step up and seize the moment?
Tune in to see.
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