Can’t Gift Them A Game
This was the second year in a row where the Islanders faced the Tampa Bay Lightning in the third round, and for the second year in a row, they gifted them a game.
That 8-0 drubbing in Game 5 was a big loss for a number of reasons. But the main reason, for me, is how the Islanders could absolutely mail in a performance in the semi-finals. How does that happen exactly? How do 20 skaters fail to show up for a critical game during the Stanley Cup playoffs?
I often talk about how the playoffs are about marginal advantages. Teams are so closely matched at this point of the tournament that gaining any minor advantage can turn the tides in a game and a series.
Gifting the Tampa Bay Lightning a game isn’t a minor advantage it’s a massive edge.
Not only do they get a free win in the best of seven series, but they get a huge confidence boost. Sure, Tampa lost Game 6, but it was close.
Which you’d think the Isles would have learned not to gift the Bolts a game after their 8-2 loss in Game 1in the Edmonton bubble last year. I understand the circumstances were different in 2020 than they were in 2021, but the Islanders felt that the schedule essentially gifted the Lightning that game (it did). So why gift them a free one this time?
We’ve seen the Isles drift in and out of games during the season with wild swings in their performance. That same inconsistency materialized in the semi-finals. To push their way to the Stanley Cup Finals, they’ll have to find a way to stay consistent.