This isn't Bo Horvat's first trip to the postseason, but it will be his first trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs with fans in attendance since 2015, his first year in the league.
The last playoff experience for Horvat came in the bubble during the 2020 Covid-19 impacted season with the Vancouver Canucks. During that post-season, Horvat thrived, scoring 10 goals in 17 games as the Canucks advanced twice before losing in seven games to the Vegas Golden Knights. Prior to that, he played as a 19-year-old in a six-game series against the Calgary Flames and scored one goal, and added three assists playing a bit over 12 minutes a game.
"I can't be more excited," Horvat told reporters after Friday's practice. "It's been a long time. Obviously, the bubble was the bubble , but playing in front of fans and stuff, it's been since my first year in the league. I'm really excited to get things going, get things started and play playoff hockey. It's the best time of the year."
"I just love playoff hockey. That's why you play the game. That kind of stuff brings out the best in me and different players around the league. Hopefully, I can bring back what I did in the bubble."- Bo Horvat
In 30 games since being acquired by the Islanders for Anthony Beauvillier, Aaty Raty and 2023 first round pick, the former Canucks captain scored seven goals and nine assists. While his scoring slowed down considerably, the Islanders would not be where they are without Horvat who provided stability at center after the loss of Barzal and contributed to wins in a variety of different ways including face-offs, penalty killing and providing key assists down the stretch during the playoff push.
Another reason for Horvat to be excited is the return of Mathew Barzal on his line. The pair that are each locked up for the next eight seasons showed chemistry in the six games they played together before Barzal's injury on Feb 18 and now have a chance to pick up where they left off.
"He's got a tremendous amount of skill and his speed and ability to make plays," said Horvat of Barza's return. "It adds another dimension to our group. We're happy to have him back."