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Islanders in the Playoffs: A letter to my late-April self

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Dear author, please keep these in mind to keep yourself sane over the next several weeks.

Florida Panthers v New York Islanders - Game Six
When last we were here: Ecstasy is fleeting.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

After a two-year absence, the New York Islanders have again returned to the NHL playoffs, and, in the parlance of our times, I am here for this.

Which means, of course, that I am a total freaking wreck.

But my consciousness-forming years were spent watching the finale of the dynasty. I stayed awake for the whole Easter Epic, I felt the ‘88 fall to Cinderella (to think I was happy for Lou’s Devils for finally unseating Mickey Mouse and making the playoffs!), Volek, Bates and Tavares.

Which is to say, I know there will be momentary highs. And I know they will be followed by devastation. So this is me trying to caution my future self against Letting All This get to him.

As Dan and Mike noted on the Islanders Anxiety podcast after the regular season finale, this brief respite between Game 82 and playoffs Game 1 is a period of calm to relish before the postseason’s daily panic kicks in.

Still, yeah, I’m already a wreck.

With that in mind, dear Dominik of mid- to late-April and maybe-if-I’m-lucky-even-May 2019, please remember:

The Islanders aren’t winning the Stanley Cup. Not only can you not have nice things, but also: They don’t have a power play. All hail Trotz and all he has brought to the Islanders, but that deficiency is kind of a playoff dealbreaker. However...

The power play might get hot. Or at least momentarily timely. With Trotz and Robin Lehner and probably even some Timely Gritty Cizikas in the fold, they may even survive a round without a functioning power play. But if the power play suddenly rolls a lucky dice or two, then maybe they advance to the second round in less than seven games, and even keep my hopes up well into round two...

Dear self, even if the latter scenario transpires, do not let yourself think it’s sustainable.

Something really infuriatingly ‘ARGH, that’s SO NHL’ will happen. Maybe it’s a night where the refs suddenly toss their whistles in the trash like it’s NHL ca. 1989-2004. Or maybe it’s Sidney Crosby getting a benefit of the doubt wider than Mario Lemieux’s credibility gap while Matt Martin gets a reputation penalty for looking at a guy. Or maybe it’s a great goal overturned by an absurdly close frame-by-frame offside video review call. (If the latter, we had it coming: 2016’s brief joy vs. the Panthers was all Greiss, Tavares, and timely video challenges. With a side of Hickey and Quine.)

Don’t break the remote control. They are a lot harder to replace these days. And once they’re inoperable, the TV is stuck and no one in the house knows what to do and you live a thousand miles away from the nearest Islanders bar.

So: Even if you have to listen to Pierre McGuire at a particularly painful moment. DON’T THROW THE REMOTE.

The stupidest Penguins fans and the stupidest Islanders fans will find each other. You know all those “Oh, GOD, look at those __[City or Team of Some Sort]___ fans” tweets and viral blog posts? (If you don’t, just look at a random Leafs fan tweet. ... see what I did there?) Such pronouncements will come in spades. Because playoffs bring out the worst in people. And social media brings out the worst in the worst people.

Area Sports Team vs. Area Sports Team rivalries elicit massive, sweeping generalizations by people who work with certified idiots in their hometown every day yet, somehow, when it comes to supporting millionaire athletes paid by billionaire real estate developers, they suddenly think the biggest idiots in the world only reside in the opposing team’s city.

Ignore them. Resist the urge to join or correct. Life is already too short, and you’re already burning plenty of it on what’s actually happening on the ice.

The Islanders aren’t winning the Stanley Cup. I feel the need to repeat this one to my future, few-weeks-older self. Because whether it’s an adrenaline-charged Game 2 win in front of Coliseum fans, or a Pittsburgh-silencing shutout somewhere like Game 4 or Game 6, one way or another the post-game emotions after a good result will get the mind to musing about how, “Hey, things are breaking right, this could be, might be, it’s maybe the year, crazier things have happened, you know? I think the Leafs even won the Cup a few times back in the six-team NHL days, right?” And that thought, once residing in the distant back of my mind, will take up primary residence until the precise moment when the opponent scores the first goal in the very next game.

Damn, the NHL playoffs. They are the worst. They are the best.

Which reminds me...hey, what if the Islanders win the Cup?