So what does getting into the playoffs mean for our Islander-Sound
Tiger or NHL fans here?
I'm curious and wanted to speak about what it means for me. And I
want to look ahead.
Most of us said this team is going nowhere if they get in recently
and that could well be true. However it should be noted this is not
last year and there are significant differences. How they finished
this season is a big difference.
They will finish at least eight games over five hundred and have
ninety points. They did it with major injuries (starting with
Scatchard's on opening night) they have a much younger team than a
year ago. They will cut the goals against over twenty goals and they
will set records for home wins going back to the Championship days.
And they will have done it with a rookie coach and a twenty two year
old goalie who did not look reliable until January.
Stirling deserves a lot of credit and I'm thrilled for him. The
season was a grind and he somehow held off a team that won twenty two
of thirty points without a first line. DiPietro in the second half
showed signs he can be great. I'll never forget than game against
Colorado. His trap was not very strong compared to other teams but it
did the job. They did pull out of the seven game streak and needed
every unexpected point they could get. That December-January run got
it going, upset's over Ottawa, Tampa and Philadelphia were not only
significant but critical.
I'm happy for the Islander fans. After seven years out we should all
appreciate being in the playoffs for as long as it lasts these days
and acknowledge the days of sixteen of twenty one teams qualifying is
long gone. It is a victory to qualify.
As for what's ahead:
I discount the experts because most of them did not predict the
Islanders to even make the playoffs. The fans know the team and as
good as Tampa and maybe Ottawa are the games are not played on paper.
Maybe the Islanders can finally get this game some attention locally
with a run at a cup. If they get out of the first round with this
defense and DiPietro at his best, it's possible.
What I also know is this is not last year's team that was on the road
for the final month and seemingly exhausted and with players injured,
they should be able to get going if they lose a game.
They have winning records against the top teams, they have a bunch of
players due to score and as good as Snow was last year, DiPietro's
potential with this defense changes things. If everything is on and
the players expected to score contribute play big, it's possible they
It seems the team is more on the same page with Stirling than
Laviolette, but the lines are not set and every team in the playoffs
will have set lines, that to me is a big disadvantage. The Lightnight-
Sens speed and transition is downright scary, Tampa does not have a
size or hitting advantage.
Does it mean the Islanders could pull a big upset in the first round.
Not likley but not impossible.
It most likely is Tampa or Ottawa. Some significant things still have
to happen for the Islanders to finish seventh which looks like Ottawa
and I'll break them down if it happens.
I expect Stirling will give his team a rest tomorrow because that's
what he said. He hinted Snow may play, which also means Dubie get's
back in goal for Bridgeport and they need him.
I'm going to enjoy it for what it is. Hope everyone does too.