Man. That was awesome. That’s not even a good word to describe how overwhelmingly perfect it was. I don’t know if there is a word for it. But being there and being part of that crowd and that atmosphere as time wound down, and it became clear the Islanders were clinching this on their own accord... man.
Recaps from a start-to-finish demolition of the Sabres: LHH (Dom captured the situation beautifully) | Newsday | Islanders | NHL | NY Post | NYI Skinny (which includes every magic number for clinching home-ice and what will need to happen to get the Metro Division title)
- Coach Barry Trotz, who was serenaded with chants all night, was thrilled that the clincher came at the Coliseum with its “great vibe.” [NY Post]
Here’s what else he had to say about last night’s clincher:
- After everything that happened this summer, this turnaround has been remarkable and was capped off with a playoff berth. [Newsday]
- All year long, the Islanders have been proving people wrong — including yours truly. Couldn’t be more happy to be wrong in my life. [Islanders]
- Mathew Barzal seems to be getting hot just at the right time — which was a big help in clinching a playoff spot for the first time in his young career. [NY Post]
- Part of his success is that he’s driving hard at the net with purpose and shooting the puck more, rather than floating around in the offensive zone as he is wont to do. [Newsday]
I’m so happy for Robin Lehner:
- The Sound Tigers ground out a 2-1 win against the AHL-best Charlotte Checkers. [Sound Tigers | CT Post | Soundin’ Off]
- Sabres right wing and former Islander Kyle Okposo relished the opportunity to play in the Coliseum again. [Buffalo News]
- Stan Fischler remembers how the Islanders took the opening game on the road of their second round series with the Big Bad Bruins in 1980, and how it set them up for their future successes. [Maven’s Memories]
- Jon breaks down the important plays from games 74-78. Some of the plays are quite good for the Islanders; others... not so much. [LHH]
- From the other day: the Isles Buzz Podcast celebrates Thursday’s miraculous comeback win against the Jets. [LHH]
LATE UPDATE: This could be a problem. Hope Tanner Fritz is going to be okay. The center depth takes another blow.
Beyond the Long Island Celebration
Last night’s NHL scores include the Lightning not doing what they normally do and allowing the Capitals to destroy them 6-3 on their home ice, which doesn’t help in the Islanders’ quest for first in the Metro. The Hurricanes beat up on the Flyers yesterday afternoon, eliminating for good Philadelphia and making their own showdown with the Penguins today even more important. Both the Blue Jackets and Canadiens won their road games with Western Conference foes (the two top teams in the Central, the Predators and Jets, respectively), tightening further the wild card race. Also, for the purposes of fun, the Maple Leafs lost in regulation to the lowly Senators, missing a chance to clinch their own playoff berth. It would be enormous fun to beat the Leafs tomorrow night on Coliseum ice to prevent them from clinching again.
- It’s been a fun weekend for Dom, as both of his teams clinched playoff spots this weekend. Here’s how the Blues went from last place in the NHL in January to challenging for home-ice in the Central Division playoffs three months later. [SLGT]
- In a truly unfortunate sequence of events, the CWHL has announced it will fold on May 1 of this year. Its business model hasn’t been financially stable. This is a breaking story, so we don’t have all the information on it yet; hopefully they’ll be announcing a merger with the NWHL. [The Ice Garden]