The New York Islanders are in the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in 27 years. That means for Islander fans who are between the ages of 1-27, this is the most exciting moment of your lives. It’s by far the best team they’ve put on the ice since the dynasty. Also, this team has the best coach the NHL has seen since the dynasty. I mean, if you match up this year’s team and the dynasty’s team, there’s a lot of parallels. But, the Islanders aren’t playing against the dynasty teams; they’re playing Tampa Bay. The Tampa Bay Lightning is an up and down team for sure. Many years with deep runs, early exits after being the best team in the regular season, and one year ended with them just missing out on glory. How well do the Islanders match up with Tampa?
I believe that Tampa is more talented on the forward side of the spectrum. Tampa has forwards like Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, and Yianni Gourde. This Tampa forward group is insanely gifted and can put up a bunch of points, but are they better together than the Islanders?
Yes, I’m talking about chemistry, something that every team needs to win. The Islanders’ second and fourth lines have the best chemistry I’ve ever seen. Tampa is currently missing their best centerman, Steven Stamkos, but that hasn’t stopped them from gelling as a group. Long time players like Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat have kept the chemistry in check. I think this could go down the middle, but talent-wise the Lightning are the better forward group.
I don’t care if the other team has Roman Josi, Victor Hedman, Drew Doughty, and John Carlson; the Islanders are a better defensive team. Especially when the Islanders defenseman is jumping up, they’re dangerous. On the other hand, the Lightning defenseman jumps up too often. And the Islanders have the speed to make the Lightning pay. If Anthony Beauvillier gets through a defensive pinch, it’s a 90% chance that’s a goal. The Lightning have more known names in their defensive group, but names don’t mean anything in the Playoffs.
Andrei Vasilevskiy, that’s really all there is to it. He’s been one of the best goalies of the 2010s. When he’s on fire, there’s not much you can do. And the Islanders are somehow cycling through goalies, and they’re in the final four. It shows you the power of Barry Trotz.