Are the Islanders…good?
The Islanders made the playoffs last year in 2019, John Tavares’ first season in Toronto, after leading the Eastern Conference for early portions of the season. It was completely unexpected after the loss of “Franchise.”
But Barry Trotz has made the most of the Islanders’ strengths and Lou Lamoriello added Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Andy Greene to field what actually truly and really looks like a good hockey team.
With tight team defense, a heavy forecheck, and old-fashioned 4-line rolling, the Islanders were legitimately the better team against the Capitals. Trotz is proving he’s a winner by taking a group of decent veteran forwards and making them a machine.
Awesome things: their energy. Their depth at center: Barzal, Nelson, Pageau, and Cizikas. 6 points for Pulock. Barzal’s OT goal was electric.
Great pressure and team defense let them mostly shut down the Capitals attack, which was, with Nicklas Backstrom. Ovechkin got a few bombs away, but all said and done the Islanders looked great defensively.
What’s surprising was that you could barely notice Johnny Boychuk’s absence.
Scott Mayfield, Adam Pelech, Devon Toews, and Ryan Pulock are killing it as home-grown talent. All 4 can handle the puck, especially Pelech and Toews.
Toews flies up to join the rush and Pulock drops bombs from the point. With Nick Leddy and Andy Greene, the Islanders have 6 guys who can skate with the puck on defense.
And finally, a starter has emerged after several years of platoon goaltending with Greiss, Halak, and Varlamov. Varlamov is having the perfect goalie postseason: flying under the radar and amassing a 7-2 record (if you count the play-in round).
The Islanders offense will face their toughest test: beating Carter Hart. At least he’s having back spasms after carrying the Flyers into the second round.
The Isles can beat the Flyers if their secondary scoring continues. The powerplay has been pretty bad, so a couple goals there will help. Flyers need to find their magic from their late run to the #1 seed if they want to disrupt the Islanders’ defensive rhythm and forecheck.
This has a chance to be a high paced and really fun series. Both teams are already happy to be at this stage and will be getting after it.
Loving the Isles’ chances here. This is the best we’ve had since 1993. There isn’t a superstar, but Barzal and Beauvillier are sick and I love it when a team comes together.
Now I have to get ready for the two hurricanes coming to New Orleans the next three days. If the wifi goes out and I can’t watch games this week I’m gonna be super pissed. Hurricanes always suck.
Who better to have on your side in a storm though?