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Islanders News: Game 1 at the Coliseum

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Those words haven’t been paired together in a definitive tone in 31 years.

NHL: New York Islanders at Washington Capitals
This team is special, no matter what happens in the next few weeks.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Game 1 at the Coliseum. Game 1 at the Coliseum. Game 1 at the Coliseum. Game 1 at the Coliseum.

No matter how many times I write it, part of me still doesn’t believe it.

I know home-ice isn’t the end-all be-all, but in a series as potentially close as the one with the Penguins, it helps to open at home with the raucous Coliseum crowd and, if necessary, be at home for Game 7.

Islanders News

Recaps from a last-game shutout:

“I’m 23 years old, and the Islanders have never had home ice for the playoffs for as long as I’ve been alive. That changes this year.”

  • Jenny wrote that in her recap, and it’s true: for many fans, she (and myself) included, this will be the first time the Islanders have home-ice advantage in the playoffs in their lives. [LHH]
  • The win clinched the second seed in the Metro, giving them home ice advantage against the Penguins, and the Jennings Trophy for fewest goals against. [Islanders]
  • The two goalies responsible for the the Jennings, Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss, see the distinction as a “team award.” [Islanders]
  • Lehner got the shutout and figures to be the likely Game 1 starter. [Newsday]
  • Valtteri Filppula will be around for the start of the playoffs — he actually played last night, and got two goals, including the game-winner. Welcome back, Val. [Newsday]
  • Eric Hornick has the final full rundown on one of the more magical regular seasons in Islanders history. [NYI Skinny]

Barry Trotz had plenty to say, both in his MSG availability and his real post-game presser:

Aside from last night’s Islanders game:

UPDATE: The schedule for the first-round has been released, and the Islanders-Penguins series has gotten top billing. Game 1 will be on NBCSN on Wednesday night at 7:30, and Game 3, this Sunday at noon, will be on NBC. National TV. Of course, locally, MSG+ will carry the first round. Also, there will be no two-day lull between games this series. As AP77 would say: a game every other day, as God intended. [LHH]

Not everyone is gonna be happy, though:

It has been a season of surprise and wonder for the Islanders, led by the miraculous life turnaround of Robin Lehner. This season has been huge for him:

  • The Sound Tigers finished the job last night, winning the second and home half of their home-and-home with the Providence Bruins to punch their ticket to the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs. Also forgot to mention: Oliver Wahlstrom scored his first professional goal in the process! [Soundin’ Off | CT Post]
  • It will be their first postseason appearance since 2016, much like the big club. [Islanders]
  • Larry Brooks touches on quite a bit in his final Slapshots column of the regular season, but his first point? Imagine if Glen Sather decided to take a step back after last season — Lou Lamoriello might be running the Rangers, instead. [NY Post]

Final Day of Regular Season/Playoff Primer

Last night’s NHL games featured a bunch of intrigue. This is going to be a very long bit today, but it’s the last one of the regular season and featured 30 of 31 NHL teams (sorry Ducks), so it deserves a bit of detail. And it turned out to be a hell of a last day, despite the fact that it lacked any last-day playoff berth clinching.

  • But let’s start with games that didn’t much matter that turned out to be interesting. The Canadiens hosted the Maple Leafs. The Habs were eliminated on Friday by the Blue Jackets, and the Leafs were locked into the 3-hole in the Atlantic, but they played a wild one, with both teams recording shot on goal totals in the mid-40s in regulation. Toronto and Montreal traded leads all game and the Leafs led 5-4 in the final three minutes of regulation before Ryan Poehling capped off a hat trick to tie the game in his first-ever NHL game. He went on to score the shootout winner to put the Canadiens at 96 points to end the year. [NHL]
  • The Lightning defeated the Bruins 6-3 in the afternoon, tying the all-time wins record of 62 set by the 1995-96 Red Wings. In the process, Nikita Kucherov got his 127th and 128th points of the season, setting the record for most single-season points by a Russian born player. [NHL]
  • Also, the Oilers beat the Flames 3-1, but Connor McDavid drove hard into the net with Mark Giordano on his tail and he slammed into the iron, his left leg taking the brunt. He mouthed “it’s broke,” but initial x-rays say there is no break. Still, he left the arena in a wheelchair and will have an MRI back in Edmonton. [NHL | Edmonton Journal on McDavid]

Eastern Conference Playoff Picture:

Of course, entering the day, only one of four Eastern Conference playoff series had been set: Maple Leafs at Bruins. The other six teams were decided: the Islanders, Penguins, Capitals, Hurricanes, Blue Jackets, and Lightning, but the seeding went down to the wire.

  • And of course, as we know, the Islanders won their game against the Capitals, clinching home ice and the second seed in the Metropolitan. [NHL]
  • The Hurricanes defeated the Flyers in regulation, keeping alive a chance to move up to the third seed in the Metro [NHL] until the Penguins earned a point in their OT loss to the Rangers. It almost happened, though, because Pittsburgh went down 3-2 to New York in the third and only tied it with less than 3:00 left. The tying goal was Jake Guentzel’s 40th of the season, making it so that there are 12 40-goal scorers in the NHL this season. [NHL]
  • The Blue Jackets stomped on the Senators 6-2, but Carolina’s win locked them into the second wild card. [NHL]

All of this means the East’s first round match-ups are: Islanders-Penguins, Capitals-Hurricanes, Maple Leafs-Bruins, and Lightning-Blue Jackets. [NHL]

Western Conference Playoff Picture

The West had some things to arrange themselves. Like the East, all the participants were known, but only one series was finalized: Sharks-Golden Knights.

  • The Stars and Avalanche were both locked into wild card spots, but yesterday’s results confirmed the Stars would be the top wild card, set to play the Central Division winner after they defeated the Wild, [NHL] while the Avalanche are the lowest seed taking on the Western Conference champion Calgary Flames, losing to the Sharks. [NHL]
  • The Central Division was undecided on the final day of the season, with three teams vying for the title. All three of the Predators, Jets, and Blues won [Preds-Blackhawks | Jets-Coyotes | Blues-Canucks], so the standings that entered the day remained unchanged: the Predators will host the Stars in round 1, while the Jets will host the Blues. [NHL]

Breathe. The official dates and times of the first round will be announced at 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning on NHL Network, and I will update this post accordingly.

UPDATE: Here is the full first-round schedule for Games 1-4 throughout the NHL.

Elsewhere

  • The McDavid injury adds to an insulting year (yes I know, I have it backwards) for Oilers fans, who are watching their incompetent management team waste the prime of one the best pure talents in NHL history. [C&B]
  • The Duhatschek Notebook discusses how the second half of the NHL season affected the NHL awards race. For what it’s worth, he thinks the Jack Adams race should finish exactly as it was determined at the midpoint: Barry Trotz (NYI), Bill Peters (CGY), and Jon Cooper (TB), in that order. [The Athletic]
  • The Big Bad Bruins that the Maven has written extensively about the last couple of weeks were arguably born after Toronto rookie defenseman Pat Quinn crushed 21 year-old phenom Bobby Orr in the 1969 playoffs. [Boston Globe]
  • Team USA defeated Team Canada 3-2 in the second preliminary game in the Women’s World Championships. [Team USA Hockey]
  • Down Goes Brown broke down a history of NHL playoff series that didn’t raise too many eyebrows going in, but that turned out to be classics, for better or worse. 2002 Maple Leafs-Islanders makes an appearance. [The Athletic]