With a masterful 4-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 7, the New York Islanders are headed to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Barry Trotz told us that there would be changes to the roster for Game 7. What changes the New York Islanders coach was going to make would only be revealed at puck drop.
With Greiss stepping out first for warm-up, clearly Trotz didn’t like Semyon Varlamov’s play in Game 6. In two games played this series, Greiss has averaged a 1.68GAA and 0.949SV%. So it’s not like Trotz was putting some random person in the net hoping he’d play well. Greiss is a great goalie who can step up in a big moment. Like a Game 7. The first one of his career.
Leo Komarov was replaced by Michael Dal Colle. So, not a good day for the “ov’s” on the team for Game 7.
For the Flyers, Sean Couturier was back in the lineup after missing some time following an awkward collision with Mathew Barzal in the Flyers D-zone in Game 5.
The Islanders were second best in the opening period of the last three games. That needed to change if they wanted to take Game 7.
An Oldie and a Goodie
It didn’t start well. The Flyers came out and got pucks on Greiss from everywhere. From the slot, the point, behind the goal line, if a Flyer had a stick on the puck he shot it at the net hoping to catch Greiss napping.
He wasn’t. Greiss stood up to the challenge and the Islanders rallied with an endless and often bruising forecheck.
Midway through the first, Scott Mayfield is gifted with a ton of open ice when James Van Riemsdyk bites as Devon Toews walks the line. The Islanders defender takes the opportunity to snipe a wrist shot to the toy department for his first career playoff goal.
Not long after, as the Islanders pressure continued, Andy Greene picked up his second playoff goal this season to put the Isles up 2-0 just 13:12 into the contest.
Remember, Greene had gone ten years and 137 days between playoff goals when he put up his first one of
playoff to open the series. With his second of the series, he went 13 days between playoff goals. Ol’ grey beard is rolling back the years it seems.
The defensive clinic was on in period two. During the second period, the Flyers managed three shots on net. Three. With the six they had in the first period, Philly had nine total through 40.
For the Islanders, it wasn’t a shooting gallery, but they outshot the Flyers 9-3 and dominated play with a 60.87 CF%, 64.71 SCF%, 72.73 HDCF%, and 65.34 xGF%.
(Stats at 5on5 and from NaturalStatTrick.)
The Isles took that advantage and helped themselves to another goal to go up 3-0. This one courtesy of Brock Nelson off an elite level setup from Josh Bailey who now has 14 helpers in this postseason. (He’d get number 15 later on in the game.)
Five years ago, as the bench boss for the Washington Capitals, Barry Trotz’s team put on a defensive masterclass in a win over the Islanders in a round-one Game 7. In that game, the Islanders were held to eleven shots on goal.
Fast-forward to 2020 where Barry is our coach. He once again wins a Game 7and limits the opponent to 16 shots on goal. Mad.
There will be time to talk about how the Islanders got through the Flyers, but with the win, the Isles have done something they haven’t been able to do in 27 years; reach the Eastern Conference Finals.
The last time the Islanders got there they needed an OT goal from David Volek to eliminate the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
Celebrate. This is huge. But we won’t have long to wait for the Conference Finals Game 1 is on Monday in Edmonton.
Thomas Greiss: 16 saves, 1.00SV%
Brock Nelson: 1G, 2A
Josh Bailey: 2A
Sean Couturier: 0SOG, -2
Claude Giroux: 2SOG, -2
Carter Hart: 22 saves, 0.880SV%