The New York Islanders are currently on the outside looking in on the final match-ups of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Pittsburgh Penguins, who elimated the Isles in six games, are currently set to battle the Boston Bruins to see who will fight for the Cup from the Eastern Conference (Photo credit: douglasgallery30/Flickr).
One Islanders skater, Travis Hamonic, has been spending time in his cottage up north in Canada, enjoying some personal time away from the game.
The 22-year old defenseman is someone I have followed since his days in the WHL after being drafted by the Islanders with the 53rd overall pick of the 2008 Entry Draft. Since then, he has emerged from an inexperienced rookie into a reliable top-four defender, responsible for shutting down an opponent's top scorers.
Hamonic called me this afternoon (once he found a spot with good cell service) to discuss his game, the first round match-up against the Pens and the culture that has overtaken the Islanders locker room.
Through three games the Kings/Sharks Western Conference Semifinal has been nothing short of fantastic. Entering the series was the Stanley Cup defending champions who disposed of the St. Louis Blues in six games despite falling behind 2-0; the Sharks entered red hot as a team drenched with momentum after easily sweeping the Canucks 4-0.
The two Californian teams play rough styles of hockey that aren't always pretty but are effective for playoff hockey. The Kings won the first two games in different fashion, the first behind the perfect play of Jonathan Quick who shut out the Sharks facing 35 shots and secondly behind some late game heroics in a spectacular comeback win.
With Pittsburgh beating Ottawa 4 - 1 and Los Angeles beating San Jose 2 - 0 last night, The Checking Line: Isles Edition will take a look into the other two semifinal series. (Photo Credit: Torch Creative)
Raleigh, NC -- the New York Islanders haven’t beaten the Carolina Hurricanes in two previous meetings this season, but are hoping the third time is the charm tonight. The Isles will take a 14-5-2 road record into PNC Arena in search of their first victory against the franchise formerly known as the Hartford Whalers.
The Hurricanes are the only Eastern Conference team that the Islanders have yet to defeat during this truncated 2013 NHL season.
Many teams that make the post-season have a player on their roster that elevates his style of play in order to reach a new level of performance during the most meaningful games of the year in the playoffs. These players are instrumental to each team's success in the playoffs and help carry their teams to several victories in their run for the Cup.
Looking back to the recent past, players such as Fernando Pisani and Sean Bergenheim come to mind. Pisani, who was playing for the Edmonton Oilers during their Cup run in 2006, only had 37 points in 80 regular season games but burst onto the playoff scene with 14 goals and 18 points in 24 playoff games.
The third installment of the Stanley Cup Finals makes its way into the Staples Center tonight. The Kings had little time to celebrate their 2-1 overtime victory Saturday night, Darryl Sutter rushed his team out of the locker room and onto the team plane in order to get back to Los Angeles as quickly as possible. Up 2-0 in the series, the Staples Center will be packed with raucous fans hungry to get a step closer to the first championship in franchise history.
For the Devils it's time to get desperate. Tonight is ultimately a must-win scenario for New Jersey, the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs are the only team to go down 0-3 and rally back to win the Cup. The trip out west could be to...
Anze Kopitar received a pass from Justin Williams at the blue line and glided towards the Devils' goal. With no defensemen near him it was obvious something exciting was about to happen. The full capacity crowd at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey rose from their seats hoping Martin Brodeur could make one more amazing save.
Kopitar came down went forehand-backhand-forehand and pushed the puck just below Brodeur's slightly elevated right leg. The Kings' forward jumped into the boards - a combination of relief and thrill - as his teammates made their way off the bench onto the ice. The goal came with 11:47 left in overtime.
The Los Angeles Kings were hoping to be presented the The Campbell Bowl - awarded to the Western Conference Champion - Sunday afternoon. Instead they will be packing their bags as the series moves back to the desert.
Coyote Captain Shane Doan struck twice and Goaltender Mike Smith blanked the Kings en route to a 2-0 victory at the Staples Center. Phoenix avoided getting swept and will return home for game 5 Tuesday night.
A questionable interference call on L.A. forward Justin Williams set up the Coyotes' first goal. Williams parked infront of Smith after the goalie came out and cleared the puck up through the neutral zone. With no immediate pressure resulting ...
2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Eastern Conference SemifinalsPhiladelphia Flyers ( 5 ) vs. New Jersey Devils ( 6 ) You have to wonder what facing the New Jersey Devils means to the Philadelphia Flyers. They've just come from beating the Pittsburgh Penguins in one of the most emotional series in recent memory, set up by even more emotional regular season games to close out the season last month. If they win this one, they can likely look forward to facing the New York Rangers, another big time Atlantic rival whom they faced in this past year's Winter Classic, to much fanfare. Forgetting how impressive it would be for a team to make the Stanley Cup final going ...
2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Western Conference SemifinalsSt. Louis Blues ( 2 ) vs. Los Angeles Kings ( 8 ) Also Read: Ty Fisher's Series preview for the Kings. Once again, we're looking at a series that most definitely has to be about the battle between the pipes, as St. Louis and Los Angeles face off as unlikely second round opponents. Jonathan Quick absolutely lit up the west this season and may have been the only reason the Kings even made the playoffs. On the other side of the ice, the Blues have two (count 'em!) goaltenders that could have and maybe should have been up for the Vezina trophy in Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak. We may be soun...