The real New York Islanders need to show up for the playoffs when the puck drops come Game 1. If the real Islanders don’t show up then unlike last year they will have a quick exit this postseason.
The way this team has been playing since the first Boston road game on April 15 is a major cause for concern. Other than a game here and there against the New York Rangers and Saturday night against the Devils, the real Islanders have been missing.
The Real Islanders
The real Islanders have a certain DNA. Barry Trotz calls it the “Islander Identity” and that’s what makes them a top team.
First and foremost the Isles are hard to play against. Their details without the puck are excellent, they allow very few offensive rebound chances for the opposition and they play with a physical edge.
When going right the Isles are a smart team that plays north. When they are not going right they play east and west and take dumb penalties.
Many times the blue and orange excellent defense leads to offense as well. As everyone knows the Isles are not a team of superstars. They are the true definition of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Finally the Isles biggest intangible is their will. The Isles are not a super-skilled team like Pittsburgh or Colorado. They are a lunch pail group who wants it more than their opponents. When the Islanders play to their identity they are a handful to say the least.
Down the Stretch
Since the Islanders lost 1-0 to the Capitals in Washington, they knew the division was a lost cause and it seems they have taken a little of the gas pedal. It’s somewhat understandable (although dangerous) due to the grueling nature of this season, especially within their division.
That theory makes sense but at the same time, any team wants to head into the playoffs feeling good about their game. In terms of the fan base, it’s hard to feel great given their play these last three weeks.
One thing everybody has learned this season is how important Anders Lee is to this team. But given the fact, there is no Lee this postseason if the Isles play to their identity they have the ability to beat anyone. Not saying they are a favorite but they can be a very dangerous team.
Feeling great heading into the playoffs as well as home ice is now out the window. However, the Islanders hopefully understand that unless they play to their complete identity they are not going to beat any top team in a playoff series.
The Isles know who they are and have shown a very strong medal under the Lou Lamoriello – Trotz regime. That is something the fan base should feel good about heading into the playoffs. Keep in mind due to their play down the stretch many hockey experts will write the Isles off and as a team, they love it when they are counted out.