The New York Islanders' playoff opponent was determined last night, and now all hands are on deck to prepare for the most fun time of the NHL year: Eight playoff series kicking off within days.
Here's last night's thread with the schedule of the Islanders' first-round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins. And here's the full league's first-round schedule. Three Western series begin Tuesday, three series (including Isles-Pens) begin Wednesday, and the final two (Ottawa vs. Montreal, New York vs. Washington) begin on Thursday.
With pairings set, series previews are launching. Here's a tour of several Isles-Pens links and previews:
- NHL.com has a ton of series coverage, including 5 Questions on the series, the X-Factor of Michael Grabner (and on the other side, Jussi Jokinen), and the obligatory "Why the Isles can win the Cup" bit.
- Other previews/predictions: At TSN | ESPN (Strang) | The Washington Post with some perspective on the Isles back when they might have drawn the Caps.
- In Newsday, Grabner with the appropriate underdog quote: "Maybe we'll change some minds, but I don't really think anyone in here cares," Michael Grabner said. "We know what we can do, what we're trying to accomplish. If someone out there wants to underestimate us, so be it. We can't control that."
- In the Trib, Mark Eaton on being with a Penguins contender again. In its series schedule post, the Trib also notes the familiar history of Penguins-Islanders playoff encounters: "All three series were gut-wrenching for the Penguins."
- Pensburgh: Where should Chris Kunitz play?
- Is Game 3, the first playoff home game at the Coliseum since 2007, going to run into traffic trouble with the Long Island Marathon? (aka Thanks, NBC.)
- Newsday with end-of-(regular)-season awards for the Isles.
- While playoff teams focus on playoff things, non-playoff teams focus on blowing things up. Dallas fired Joe Nieuwendyk (interesting DBD reaction here). Colorado fired Joe Sacco and Eric Lacroix resigned (MHH reaction here)
- And this was just cool from the Times the other day: Punjabi Hockey Night in Canada.
More to come later. And as always, share more good reads in comments and FanShots. (And commenters, please don't be idiots to one another. Playoffs are fun. Moderating comment sections is tiring. Patience for babysitting needs will be thin. Full stop.)