The New York Islanders beat the Florida Panthers today with a score of 5-1 and win the series 3-1. This is was not an unexpected outcome for NHL fans, but it was for “analysts.” The Panthers are not a playoff team right now and will have to rebuild a tad bit of their lineup to make that jump.
The Islanders dominated most of the periods during this series. The only thing the Islanders didn’t execute well on was the powerplay kill. This will be a focus of head coach Barry Trotz in the upcoming practices. Now that the Islanders won and will move on, what’s next for the team from the Island?
If the Montreal Canadiens win today’s game vs the Pittsburgh Penguins, they will win the series 3-1 and decide the Islander’s fate. The Islanders would play the winner of Boston Bruins vs Washington Capitals if the Canadiens win. If the Penguins win the series, the Islanders would play the loser of the Philadelphia Flyers vs the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Islanders can only play the 2nd or 3rd seed, but luckily for the Isles, they can play anyone.
I imagine that Barry Trotz is hoping to play the Capitals in round 1. It’s a familiar face, as Trotz was the former head coach of the Caps. Not only will it bring a second round birth for either team, but it will also bring bragging rights. If the Islanders win, the narrative is, “Trotz can beat any team with any team.”
If the Capitals win, the narrative is, “The Capitals didn’t need Trotz as much as we think they did.” The Islanders most likely don’t want to play the Bruins. The Bruins are the hardest team to beat in the league, even though they’ve lost their last two games. The Bruins have a superstar line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pasternak, with defenseman Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy backing them up. Along with Tukka Rask in net, the Bruins are not a team you want to run into in the playoffs.
The Islanders have clinched the playoffs for the second year in a row, and that’s something to be proud of. They lost their franchise center John Tavares and still found a way to win. Islanders’ fans can go to bed at night knowing that they finished farther than the Maple Leafs for the second year in a row.