With the semi-final series against the Tampa Bay Lightning over, what can we learn about the New York Islanders?
The New York Islanders took a step forward from last year. Instead of losing in six games in the third round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, they lost in seven games this time. I know one game may not seem much better, but it is quite literally one step in the right direction.
And that’s important.
Remember, before Lou Lamoriello (and Barry Trotz) took over, the Islanders were regressing. They went from playing in the second round, to barely missing the playoffs, and then being well out of it in 2017-18. Maybe I’m just grasping at any positive angle I can right now, but I feel like that one extra win is a bigger deal than it’s currently being made out to be.
The series loss is still fresh, it still kind of hurts, but while it’s still fresh enough to remember, let’s look at what the Islanders can learn about themselves from this semi-final.
Leaning on Pageau a lot
If for some reason you aren’t yet convinced the New York Islanders really like Jean-Gabriel Pageau and maybe rely on him too much then this series should help convince you.
Pageau was clearly injured in this series, how he was injured or even what was injured doesn’t really matter. Pageau wasn’t at 100% in this series and it significantly messed with the Islanders depth.
His ice time went from an average of 17:56 vs the Penguins and 18:08 against Boston to 15:41 against Tampa in this series. Barry Trotz couldn’t rely on Pageau as he had thought the rest of the playoffs.
The Isles third line was very ineffective without a 100% Pageau. Which allowed the Lightning’s depth to find more space and opportunities against the Isles. It’s clear Barry Trotz leans on Pageau a lot. And it makes sense, he’s a great player to have. He’s useful in any situation. But wen