The New York Islanders have been doing better than a lot of people expected so far throughout the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs. In their first series, they were able to take down Pittsburgh, four games to two in a series where they were counted out by many NHL fans and even analysts.
Fast forward to the next series against Boston. New York was able to take down the Boston Bruins, four games to two. There were even more people counting out the Islanders this season hoping and praying to see us fail. Once again, we won and advanced the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals for the second year in a row.
Now we are in arguably our toughest series of this 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs, against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Last year the Islanders got eliminated in game six of the semi-finals, against the Lightning. This year, the Islanders won game six in overtime to force a game seven.
We are still being counted out by a lot of fans, and analysts as well. However, one thing we know for sure, the Islanders are still in it. After a tough loss on Monday, the Islanders were able to bounce back and force the game seven. A lot of players stepped it up this playoff run, and this is just three of them.
Islanders Honorable Mention
Before we get into the top three, I do want to make one honorable mention, Josh Bailey. Bailey has been playing very well this playoff season. He gets a lot of hate, and sometimes it’s justifiable, but Bailey has been providing and helping his team in a big way this playoff season, and nobody can deny that.
Bailey has had a semi-quiet past five games against the Lightning, scoring only one goal in the process. However, looking at the bigger picture, Bailey has provided a great deal for his team thus far. Scoring six goals and seven assists, he’s been a scorer, but also had a pivotal role in helping his teammates find open goals.
1. Mat Barzal
This will probably won’t come as a shocker. But the first player in my top three is going to have to be Mat Barzal. Barzal has been skating his heart out on the ice and has been providing for his team a big deal. Over the course of the last five games, Barzal has two goals and two assists.
Over the course of the playoffs, Barzal has a total of 14 points off of six goals and eight assists. He was pretty quiet in the Pittsburgh series, picking up only three assists. However, once their series with Boston came around a light switched and Barzal picked up three goals and three assists.
Barzal has also been making his presence known in the semi-finals. Picking up three goals and two assists. Besides his point-scoring, he has also been playing a big factor in the series. Whenever he is on the ice, he is the target of the Lightning’s defense. This provides opportunities for his teammates to score too.
2. Kyle Palmieri
This is one that nobody saw coming at the beginning of the year. During the season, we, unfortunately, lost our captain, Anders Lee. We knew it was going to be hard to find someone to fill that void and to be honest, it really still does feel like something is missing. In comes, Kyle Palmieri from the New Jersey Devils.
Palmieri played well during the season and helped to mitigate the damage on the Islanders when with Lee out. Nobody can fill the captain’s shoes, but Palmieri did a fantastic job. In the playoffs, he remained consistent with nine points total off of seven goals and two assists.
Palmieri picked up three goals against Pittsburgh, and four goals, and two assists against Boston. Palmieri has been helping the Islanders a lot this playoff run and he is definitely making a case as to why he could be re-signed by the New York Islanders this off-season.
3. Ryan Pulock
How can someone not mention Ryan Pulock? First and foremost, Pulock had probably the biggest highlight for the Islanders this season when he saved the puck from going in the net in the Islanders game four victory to tie the series at two apiece. This play arguably saved the series for New York and is a big reason they got this far.
Besides the play that everyone will be talking about forever, Pulock also has shown to be valuable as a defenseman and why he is one of the best in the league. Whether it be, getting hits when needed, clearing the zone, or just playing lockdown defense, Pulock has been doing it all.
On top of how good he is on defense, Pulock has also produced. Over the course of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs, Pulock has six points in total off of four goals and two assists. Pulock is definitely one of the best defenders in the world which is why I had to include him on this list.
Wrapping It Up
This season has been a very weird one. Losing arguably one of the biggest pieces of the Islanders offense in our captain, we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. However, the Islanders overcame a lot and now face game seven on Friday night. To wrap it up, one thing I can confidently say is whether the Islanders win or lose tomorrow, I’m so proud to be a New York Islanders fan. We aren’t done yet.