New York Islanders: The Real Long Island Heroes – Thank You.
By Mike Lewis
The New York Islanders fell to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 4 of their best of seven series on Friday night. After the electrifying round 1 sweep of the Penguins, the lack of scoring in round 2 ultimately sunk the Islanders Cinderella battleship.
You don’t have to lie to me, Isles faithful. We’re all disappointed. This New York Islanders team did what no one thought they could in July of 2018. They made us believe in them again. And frankly, for that, we should all be tremendously grateful.
So as the season ends and the dust settles, let us consider our heroes in orange and blue. Who stays, who goes? What does Lou Lamoriello have in store for the Isles faithful? Let us not despair Islander Nation, for even in this, our darkest hours of the season, there are rays of hope coming from the lighthouse in Long Island.
Matthew Barzal has come into his own. While he started the season struggling, attempting to round out his game in Barry Trotz’s defensive system, he has come back a force to be reckoned with, often creating chances for himself offensively by stepping up his defense. His effort against Pittsburgh and Carolina cannot be ignored. Hero points to Barzy.
Anders Lee. Our captain. The captain that smiles and leads on the ice and in his off ice charitableness. Here’s hoping that Lou re-signs number 27. His hard work and leadership have proven worthwhile of the commitment, and his ability to redirect pucks down low doesn’t hurt. Wearing the C is sort of like have an S on your chest anyway.
Brock Nelson and Jordan Eberle, if we were to award hero points based solely on Round 1 of the playoffs, you two would be a dynamic duo. Hero points to you both, but I don’t know that Eberle did enough at the end of the year to make up for a lackluster scoring campaign to get re-signed. Especially with Dal Colle improving and Wahlstrom knocking at the door. Nelson had his best numbers to date this season and seems likely to be an Islander next year, however.
New York Islanders Defense and Structure
The fourth line was gutsy all year long, playing solid defense and scoring more than any analysts thought that they should. The MC2 line deserves hero points all around and a bit of a vacation to heal up their ailing joints.
Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech, congratulations, you are both better than anyone thought you would be. You showed guts and determination. Pelech, you singlehandedly stopped a 5 on 3 Carolina Power Play in Game 3. The 2 P’s deserve hero points up and down. The Isles faithful is proud of you.
Josh Bailey, you are an unlikely hero. The fans want to love you more, but some just can’t accept what it is that you do, but they must have seen that you scored four playoff goals. When you score the team is on point. Josh Bailey, I give you hero points even if it costs me the favor of some of my readers.
Robin Lehner, please don’t let the Carolina series make you feel less like the man. You are a hero on and off the ice. You have influenced the lives of so many, myself included, and for that I thank you. Let me also lead the fans of the Orange and Blue in a big thank you for keeping us in almost every game that you played this year. You’re a class act, and you’re a hero.
Lastly, Barry Trotz, you changed the culture. Defensively the New York Islanders went worst to first in one season. You took a team without big names into the second round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, and who knows, if it hadn’t been for a nine-day layoff you might have taken them even further. Whether you win the Jack Adams or not, let me speak for the Isles faithful in raising a glass to you, Yes, Yes, Yes.
Thank you for a great season, New York. We’ll all be watching and waiting to see what comes next