The New York Islanders fell to the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center Friday night in a shootout after getting a late goal to tie the game in the third period. From the opening faceoff, the Isles lacked the energy to compete with a Sabres team bent on playing spoiler.
Despite the loss, the Isles moved up from eighth to sixth in the Eastern Conference, pending the results of the final game for the New York Rangers and the final two games for the Ottawa Senators.
The New York Islanders assigned goaltender Rick DiPietro to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on February 23rd, 2013. At that time, the Isles were 7-9-1 and appearing as a team that could miss the playoffs once again in another frustrating season (Photo credit: xjowell/Flickr).
Since DP's demotion, the Islanders have gone 17-7-5 due largely in part to a near flawless month of April (8-0-3). Leading the charge between the pipes has been Evgeni Nabokov, who boasts a 23-11-6 record that holds three shutouts - one coming in a 4-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres the night DiPietro was sent to Bridgeport.
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.
It was only three years ago that John Tavares scored 24 goals in 82 games in his rookie season for the New York Islanders. He finished the year with 54 points and gave Isles fans confirmation that they were witnessing a star starting to bloom in an orange and blue jersey (Photo credit: theseoduke/Flickr).
Here we are in his fourth NHL season and Tavares just might have already surpassed every Islanders' fans wildest dreams.
Only five games remain in this lockout-shortened regular season for the Philadelphia Flyers. These five games serve as a tryout period for players to show why they should or shouldn't stay beyond next season. Some players have already been written off, as it may not make much sense to keep for the future.
Many difficult decisions have to be made this summer, including players that have had extended stints as Flyers.
When the horn sounded at the end of the third period at the Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday night, Islanders fans rejoiced as their home squad defeated the visiting Florida Panthers 5-2. The Isles skaters removed their jerseys and signed them for the lucky fans who won them as a prize at the end of the game.
Typically, this is a moment at the end of the Islanders season filled with "better luck next year's" and "thanks for supporting us as we rebuild our team." But instead, this time, fans were salivating for more as the Islanders continued to tighten their grasp on their first playoff berth in six years.
"Everyone's been telling me how loud this arena can be," said Matt Martin...
The season is beginning to find its end. It is a time that we usually reflect on what has occurred and a time where we joyfully anticipate the upcoming playoff battles. This time of the year always has a few major questions though. The question that continues to plague me; however, is the one that so many hockey writers continue to write about. Does Sidney Crosby still deserve the Hart Trophy after missing so many games with a fractured jaw?
It is a question that I am entirely sick of, to be completely honest. Mostly because the answer is yes and just about everyone knows this, but I highly doubt that hockey writers have to continue to post article after article on why he is s...
For those that grew up during the great cup runs in the 80's and the "epic" playoff battles that took place in the 90's, fans already know how loud the Nassau Coliseum can get.
But for fans like myself, who were either not born or old enough to appreciate what was taking place on the ice in Long Island at that time, there is only the first round elimination series against the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2002 that truly proves merit to the Coliseum's nickname, the "Madhouse off the Meadowbrook."
After dropping a 3-1 decision to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday, they find themselves seven points back of the final playoff spot with eight games to go, needing a bevy of extremely unlikely circumstances to occur for them to even slide into the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.
"We have a game coming up," head coach Peter Laviolette said after the loss. "We need to win hockey games and focus on the next one."
That may be the only thing the Flyers can do—just try to win with what they have.
(Pictured: Claude Giroux during warm-ups. Photo by Candice Monhollan)