It was another year with the New York Islanders going on a deep run in the postseason. It’s now been back-to-back years with the Islanders making it to the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The run ended earlier than fans wanted it to, but it was a hell of a ride.
Before jumping into offseason content I wanted to tie a bow on the playoffs by looking back at the top moments from the post-season run. (Maybe I’m not ready to concede that the Isles are truly out of the playoffs.)
So here are my biggest moments from this playoff run by the Islanders.
Six of the biggest moments from New York Islanders 2021 playoff run
Ilya Sorokin Stepping Up
Islanders fans finally got to see Ilya Sorokin play an NHL game this season. The 25-year-old rookie put on the blue and orange for the first time since being drafted in the 2014 third round. And he didn’t disappoint. He wasn’t the starter though, it was Semyon Varlamov‘s crease, even when the veteran picked up an injury on the last game of the regular season.
But when Varlamov wasn’t up to snuff in Game 1 against Pittsburgh, Sorokin stepped in and was excellent. Taking over for Varlamov in the series, Sorokin won all four games he started and averaged a 2.25GAA and 0.943SV%.
He didn’t have a good Game 1 against Boston in the second round, but he could have grown in the series quite quickly. Either way, Sorokin’s playoff performance supports what the Isles saw in the regular season, the goalie of the future is here.
Brock Nelson – Captain Clutch
Brock Nelson is one of the better goal scorers in series-clinching games, ever. Not just for the Islanders, but in the NHL.
Now, without a goal in Game 7 against the Lightning, Brock’s goals per series-clinching game falls to 0.69, but you get the point. Brock is pretty darn clutch when the games matter the most. That was evident earlier in the playoffs when the Isles were looking to eliminate the Penguins.
Brock scored two goals (and picked up an assist) to push past the Penguins in six games. His best of those two goals was this one right here.
Seeing Brock Nelson come up clutch just reminds me how far he’s come. Just a few years ago, Brock was a third-line winger and having his worst year since this 72 rookie season in 2013-14.
Anders Lee Slapping a Door
You’ve seen it a million times before. Anders Lee slapping a door as he read off the starting line before a game against the Lightning. It didn’t just get his team fired up but it fired everyone up. Sure, Lee wasn’t playing but the captain was doing his best to have an impact on his squad.
Ryan Pulock Stop
There wasn’t a nicer play than this one for the Islanders in the playoffs. Not one. Ryan Pulock‘s goal-line denial on Ryan McDonagh was epic. Had the Isles gone on to the final round this play would have been a big reason why.
Barzal Our House
After losing Game 3 at home to the Boston Bruins, the Islanders had one final home game before returning to Boston. That night, the Islanders and Mathew Barzal had a big night. With a 4-1 win the Isles leveled the series. Barzal had a goal and a primary assist on the night.
Voted as the first star that night Barzal came out to take his victory lap shouting to the assemble Nassau Coliseum crowd: “This is OUR house.”
With this being the final run for the Coliseum this statement means a lot.
That’s all she wrote on the Coliseum. The Islanders will be moving to the UBS Arena for 2021-22. That likely means they’ll start the year on the road.
But the Coliseum and the crowd that called the Old Barn home had a starring role throughout the playoffs. There wasn’t a single moment that stands out, so I’m lumping every home game together as a single moment because of the impact they collectively had on the team. Something Lou Lamoriello made sure to mention it in his season-ending letter to the fans:
Yes, the last memory some will have is beers raining down on the ice, but most of us will remember it for a lot more. The Coliseum will go down as one of the best venues to ever watch a hockey game. And the crowd is the reason why.