Islanders Playoff Run Brings New Found Hope To Fans
By Matt O'Leary
The Islanders magical ride came to an end, but boy was it a fun and unexpected ride for this team.
Well, that didn’t end the way that we wanted. Winning the Stanley Cup is the goal for every team, and this year the Islanders got the closes that they’ve ever got in my entire lifetime.
Falling short is never fun, but I’m writing this morning with a sense of pride in my heart. See, I’m 25 years old. I’ve been on this earth for a quarter of a century and there’s been so little success for this franchise in my lifetime.
It took until three days after my 21st birthday for them to advance in a playoff round, and then four years later, they found themselves in the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 1993.
This team wasn’t supposed to be here. July 1 2018 was one of the darkest days in my sports fandom. There was finally hope with Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz running the show but John Tavares, the franchise, left.
The assumption was that the Islanders were tanking for Jack Hughes. The assumptions were wrong. They finished with 103 points and made it to the second round before bowing out.
Then this year, a 17 game point streak was overshadowed by a seven-game losing streak to close out the season. Frauds they were called, misguided was the word being thrown out about Lou Lamoriello’s roster building.
The Isles made the return to play and took care of business in the play-in round. That was expected, but the overall consensus was Barry Trotz’s former team was going to take care of them in Round 1. At least that was the national perspective.
It was the opposite. The Isles went up 3-0 and finished off the Capitals in five games. Then came Philadelphia. The Islanders have no shot against Philly, the hottest team in the NHL at the end of the season.
Wrong again. The Islanders won the series in seven games advancing to their first Eastern Conference in 27 years. Yes, going down 2-0 really hurt them against Tampa but they held their own and were a goal away from making a seventh game necessary.
We know the roster isn’t perfect. The Islanders struggled on the power play and need another shooter, that’s pretty obvious. But that’s it.
The New York Islanders, are a shooter away from being a Stanley Cup contender. Let that sink in for a second.
They almost did the thing this year but lost out to an uber-talented Tampa Bay Lightning team. There’s no shame in that. Islanders fans have hope this morning, and it helps ease the pain of bowing out in the ECF.
Lamoriello has a lot of work to do, making the cap situation work, but don’t get it twisted. It wasn’t a fluke, the Isles aren’t going to regress to a bottom feeder team. This is a team that’s here to stay that is a piece away from true contention.
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The window, in my eyes, has just opened. It’s not rapidly closing like some would tell you. The Isles will be competing for the Stanley Cup over the next few years and it’s a fun feeling. See you all in 2020-2021.