With Friday’s Game 4 offering the first potential end to the 2018-19 New York Islanders’ season, we’re all feeling a little anxious or else resigned and thus I thought it wise to take a little bit of solace from history.
Because a bunch of people once said and will say it over and over again that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Well, let’s selectively learn from history so that we can only repeat the parts we really liked, shall we?
- The Carolina Hurricanes have only been to the playoffs on five previous occasions since leaving Hartford for Greensboro pastures in 1997. During none of those occasions were they able to sweep an opponent. Boom. We could just end this column here, but there’s more irrefutable evidence so let’s press on...
- In fact, In 2006, the Hurricanes had the Lou Lamoniello-Managed Devils down 3-0 in the second round. They would lose Game 4 5-1. (Then Carolina won game 5 by a score of 4-1 to win the series but whatever.)
- To survive this series, the Islanders must win four games in a row. In 2009, the Hurricanes lost four consecutive third-round playoff games to the Pittsburgh Penguins. See? If it can happen to the Canes at the hands of the most loathsome teams, surely the Isles can do it to these jerks too.
- In 2002, on a miraculous run to the Stanley Cup final, the Hurricanes won Game 1 before losing four straight to the Detroit Red Wings. See? Told you it can happen. To paraphrase Jeremy Roenick, once again I am correct in my analysis.
- 1999 and 2001 were quick first-round exits for the former Whalers and tell us nothing.
Meanwhile, across the Islanders’ history, when not winning 19 playoff series in a row the Isles have been much more of a “kill us in five games” franchise. That’s how they went out in the second round in 2016 (Tampa), and it’s how 2007 (Buffalo), 2004 (Tampa) and 2003 (Ottawa) ended too.
But on the subject of sweeps. How have the Islanders fared when faciing the prospect of total annihilation? Well:
- In 1993 the Islanders trailed the Canadiens 3-0 in the conference final before winning Game 4 4-1 to avoid the sweep. (Then they lost Game 5 by a score of 5-2 but whatever. That whole series was criminal, the two OT games were B.S....It’s really too soon to revisit.)
- 1994 is not a recognized year in the NHL Official Guide & Record Book so whatever your jerk friend tells you about that year is strictly hearsay.
- We want to be totally objective here, so we should point out that in 1986 the Islanders were defeated 3-0 by the Washington Capitals in the Patrick Division Semifinals, but that was a best-of-five series and should such series ever really count? There’s a reason all rounds are best-of-seven now.
As you know, in terms of “can a team reverse the threat of a sweep” the Islanders are much more known for the epic year of 1975. That’s when the future dynasty not only reversed a 0-3 hole to defeat the loathsome Penguins in seven games, but in the next round they damn well nearly did it again against the equally loathsome Flyers. Philadelphia narrowly avoided humiliation by getting by the Islanders in Game 7.
A decade ago, that 1975 comeback was still held up as the unrepeatable standard in hockey. Since then, it’s happened a few more times.
So...I guess I’m saying there’s a chance. History proves it.