The Islanders got the perfect tune-up game for the playoffs against Boston

We know now who the Islanders will play in the playoffs.

Not being able to win in regulation last night against the Boston Bruins, the Isles locked themselves in for a first-round date with the winners of the East Division, the Pittsburgh Penguins. That series won’t begin till either this Sunday or Monday; the NHL has only announced the Bruins-Capitals’ series will begin on Saturday. But that doesn’t mean the Islanders didn’t get a taste last night of what is coming this weekend. Maybe it’s exactly what they needed too.

The final 40 minutes before overtime saw tons of physical play, tight-checking, lots of jawing and solid goaltending at both ends. Everyone on the Islanders’ side was engaged, which hadn’t been the case in the last four games prior. The Isles threw 41 hits throughout the 60-plus minutes of play.

“The last few teams we played, we had Buffalo and then New Jersey, they were out of the playoffs. The physicality wasn’t there,” Mathew Barzal said in the postgame. “So, tonight to get a game like that, a game that was heavy all game – I thought we were heavy too – it was nice to get that feeling back. That competitiveness, a little bit of that hunger, a little bit of that fire. I think it was good for us.”

Considering the Isles will have to deal with the heaviness the Penguins bring to the table — it was evident in the season series with whom the Isles went 2-4-2 — the Bruins provided a nice blueprint. Those two clubs play a similar style and their intense forecheck is something the Islanders will have to key in on. And having to try to contain the stars — Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin if he’s healthy — is similar to what they were tasked with going up against the “Perfection Line” of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak a majority of the night.

On the Pens series: this is not going to be the same type of series the rivals had two years ago when the Islanders shockingly swept the Penguins in four games. That Pens squad was all about skill and speed. They lacked bulk and depth, which the Isles took advantage of with their four lines. The Isles are also playoff-hardened, having lost in the second round after that Pittsburgh series and getting within two games of the Stanley Cup Final last summer.

Playoffs are a different type of mindset and intensity. The Bruins brought those two components out of the Islanders at the right time in their contest last night.

The Isles got the tune-up they truly needed and can now focus all their attention on the postseason.

Let the fun begin.

The Islanders’ offense will still be questioned until the puck is finally dropped on game one, but a few of their key guys are going in on a high note. Barzal, Anthony Beauviller and rookie Oliver Wahlstrom were terrific the past two games; Beauvillier has been on a heater for weeks.

Barzal, the team’s point leader with 45, registered his second-multi point game on Monday night. This marked the first time all season the forward had back-to-back two-point games, which is hard to believe. Beauvillier made it eight points in his last seven and Wahlstrom ended with three points in the final two games.

Congrats to Offside Tavern which will be returning for the postseason. MSG’s Brendan Burke dropped the hint during last night’s broadcast and then it became confirmed this morning from the bar’s owner himself, Nick Costa.


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