With the preseason now behind us, Isles fans everywhere can collectively breathe a sigh of relief as the moment we have all been waiting for is upon us. The Isles are on the verge of playing the first meaningful games since the heart breaking game 6 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins last May. We have all been eager to pick up right where we left off after exceeding all expectations last season. With all of this in mind, we can only hope for the success to continue so the Islanders can take their place among the elite teams of the NHL. Although the outcome of this coming season is yet to be determined, I think I speak for Islander fans everywhere when I say this is the most confident we have been in the last 20 years.
The stars may be aligning perfectly for veteran Pierre Marc-Bouchard. Word has been circling around the Islanders that he will be joining John Tavares and Matt Moulson on the first line for the beginning of the 2013-14 season. While this is simply conjecture at this point, it has to Marc-Bouchard grinning from ear to ear. John Tavares and Matt Moulson have a tendency to find the net and their scoring prowess could leave him with many juicy opportunities. As a member of the Minnesota Wild, Bouchard has been uninspiring and mediocre scoring less than 20 goals in every season but the 06-07 campaign. This is likely to change if he flanks Moulson and Tavares on the top line.
What has history taught us about the lovable duo of Tavares and Moulson? Well, we have learned that they have the ability to make whoever plays as the third cog, an offensive threat. With the playmaking ability of John Tavares and Matt Moulson’s nose for the net, it is easy to see why P.A. Parenteau and Brad Boyes enjoyed decent offensive seasons in Islanders uniforms. There are some that believe that P.A. Parenteau can thank John Tavares alone for his 4 year, 16 million dollar contract with Colorado Avalanche. Good things tend to happen when 91 is on the ice.
There are a lot of questions surrounding the New York Islanders as they head into next season. The biggest one will be whether or not they are capable of making the playoffs for the second year in a row.
The NHL Facebook page recently asked this same question, and many fans were either skeptical, positive or found the idea downright absurd (and these weren't just Rangers fans).
Despite an intense, hard fought playoff series with a very inexperienced roster against the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team that has been one of the most dominant forces of the league for the past few years, many critics are still not convinced that the New York Islanders are a guaranteed playoff team.
The New York Islanders lost 4-3 in overtime last night to the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins, thus ending their run in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Penguins took the series in six games, winning the last battle on Coliseum ice in front of a sold out crowd of Islanders fans that continued to give their home team a standing ovation despite being eliminated.
"It's exciting to play in a building like this. It's a lot of fun. In my opinion, we're probably the loudest arena in the league now," said Matt Martin after the game.
"The fans were unbelievable through the end of the season there in the last five home games and all through the playoffs. They were a big factor in the way we played at home down the stretch. It makes a huge difference for us. People don't realize it but it gives you a little extra boost, a little extra energy when the crowd goes nuts like that. You definitely want to do something exciting."
The New York Islanders were hosting a playoff game on Nassau Coliseum ice for the first time in six years in front of a sold out crowd that was salivating for the puck to finally drop. Unfortunately for the Isles, they fell to the Penguins in overtime by a score of 5-4 on a power play goal that came from forward Chris Kunitz just 8:44 into the extra frame.
Special teams would ultimately play the deciding factor in the game, as the Islanders penalty kill only went 2-5, surrendering two additional power play goals in the first period that allowed the Penguins to get into the hockey game.
The Isles came out of the gates with energy and intensity, racking up hits, shots and goals immediately. Within the first two minutes of the game, Matt Moulson would slam home a rebound after Kyle Okposo would get the first few initial chances. Lubomir Visnovsky would be credited with the second assist.
The 2013 NHL season has come to an end and an impressive push down the stretch by our beloved Isles has secured them the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. For the first time since 2007, the New York Islanders will play post-season hockey and compete for Lord Stanley’s Cup.
However, the real challenge lies ahead for the Islanders, as they will take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the playoffs. The Penguins basically ran circles around the rest of the Eastern Conference during the lockout-shortened 2013 season, finishing in 1st place with 72 points. (Photo Credit: Beauty Playin 'Eh/Flickr)
With the Islanders down a goal late in the 3rd at Carolina, it seemed like the clinching party would have to be put on hold. That all changed when John Tavares slid a puck to the front of the net that somehow wound up crossing the line. It would seem like some sort of supernatural force is driving them to be this lucky.
But what we are realizing collectively with each passing game is that for too long we have been mistaking lucky for good. This Islanders team is talented, driven and gritty. They are playing hockey the right way and making a starving fan base proud on a nightly basis.
With the Islanders losing in a shoot-out, they picked up a valuable point that made clinching possible. For all hockey fans with access to the out of market games, they all turned their attention to the action in the nation’s capital. The Capitals were clinging to a one goal lead when Winnipeg pulled Pavelec to bring on an extra man. As the seconds dripped off the clock for what seemed like hours, the Caps connected with an empty netter which sealed the Islanders’ fate.
They are playoff bound for the first time in 7 years.
The Isles took a big step towards the playoffs yesterday afternoon with another road victory in Winnipeg. Brian Strait was back in the line up, so Matt Carkner sat yesterday.
This was one of the most exciting games this season, with so much on the line for both teams. In the beginning of the first, the Isles looked a little tired. That would not last long though, as Frans Nielsen scored his 6th of the season just 4:21 into the game on a nice play from Okposo and Bailey. (Photo: MVerminski/flickr)