With a clinical display of frustrating Trotz-clogging and disciplined positioning, the New York Islanders knocked the Washington Capitals out of the playoffs last night, taking the series in a swift five games.
It’s their second playoff series victory in Toronto this month.
That means the Isles have advanced to the conference semifinals for the second consecutive year — and second time since the departure of their former captain — which used to be a routine matter in Islanders Country, but has been, well, elusive for a quarter century.
While watching the third period clock was still nerve-wracking, knowing a two-goal lead can disappear in a penalty and a bounce, that was the calmest I’ve felt in watching the Isles try to close out a win. You know the Trotz system is no guarantee in that situation, but it’s miles more confidence-instilling than what we saw under the previous three coaches.
The opponents only get much more difficult from here, but a win is a win. Every series clincher is a little dose of hope and fun for fans, every outstanding team display is an advertisement for future free agents and trade targets to have the Islanders on their good list.
About last night...
- Isles advance with a clinical Trotzian performance. [LHH]
- Trotz: “Four lines that brought it. No passengers.” [Isles]
- Complete shutdown. [Newsday]
- Making a habit of bouncing back from losses. [Post]
- Beauvillier, who’s having a great playoff, is going to focus on not thinking about it. [NHL]
- Jos Bailey: When the Isles are playing their “right way,” the feeling on the bench is contagious.
“When we’re playing the right way you can feel it on the bench. It’s contagious.”— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) August 21, 2020
Bailey, Beauvillier and Casey Cizikas examine the series-clinching win. pic.twitter.com/yPyZSYnEpq
Barry Trotz affirms, yes, that was how they want to play:
“I think that's what we envisioned. That’s how we wanted to play, the players bought in and they executed.”— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) August 21, 2020
Trotz talks about the game 5 win! pic.twitter.com/yD5ZTdA208
Prior to all that...
- The Islanders needed their power play to help. (Update: It did.) [Newsday]
- Trotz challenged them to be better. (Update: They were.) [Post]
- Jon Ledecky, Ray Ferraro and Bryan Trottier held a zoom with season ticket holders. [Isles]
- A new developer deal has been reached to take over the Coliseum. [Newsday] Randi Marshall opines on what it means. [Newsday]
- Contest: Snap a shot of yourself in your best blue-and-orange gameday getup. [Isles]
And the Capitals?
Well, that’s not how it’s supposed to work:
Nicklas Backstrom: “I think over these five games they wanted it more than us.”— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) August 21, 2020
- As the Capitals core ages and the depth thins, there is much to ponder for the future. [NHL]
- Coach Todd Reirden is not thinking about his job status, honest. [NBC DC]
- Braden Holtby is though. He’s a UFA. [NBC DC]
- SEVEN reasons the Caps lost, including: “One team stuck to its game plan, dictated the play and looked well prepared every step of the way. The other team looked completely lost.” [NBC DC]
Tom Wilson, Mapped
In honor of the wonderful site/Twitter feed Terrible Maps, and in recognition of the Capitals fans who routinely use these moments to complain about how much other fans complain about their dirtiest player, we present the following factual representation:
It’s hilarious how protective they are of the big tough guy. It’s jaw-dropping the logical pretzels they’ll form to rationalize his existence. It’s typical how much they deflect.
Why don’t you shut up about him!
Because he’s a really dirty player.
He’s totally in your kitchen!
No, he’s just a dirty player.
But he’s a talented player!
All the more shameful — wasteful, even — that he’s such a dirty player.
But but but Anders Lee!
Ah yes, glad you brought Anders up! Another big guy, tough to move. Uses his size wonderfully. Also a guy whose offensive talent requires seeing beyond fancy plays. And yet somehow, unlike Wilson’s feature-length history of stupidity, the script for Lee’s reel of dirty plays is, at most, a sentence long.
Maybe if you’d focus on something more important then you’d win the series!
That’s not...you don’t...I mean for one the Islanders did win. And largely ignored the tool in 43. Please understand this: Even if you don’t agree that hockey is generally more enjoyable with less of those, you must concede that every other fanbase is going to be annoyed that his existence too often goes unpunished.
But they can worry not — with the Capitals out, Wilson probably can’t elbow anyone in the head or crosscheck them in the numbers for a while! Buh-bye!
Brock Nelson telling Tom Wilson goodbye after the Islanders made it 3-0. Classic Brock. pic.twitter.com/aQjm95SFSh— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) August 21, 2020
- Yesterday’s other game featured the Flames, facing elimination, blowing a 3-0 lead to lose 7-3 and get knocked out by the Stars. Yikes.
- Lots of stats from both games here. [On The Forecheck]
- With the Canadiens facing elimination, Brendan Gallagher is out for the series with a broken jaw. His assailant, Matt “don’t call me Wilson” Niskanen, is suspended one game. [NHL]
- One game? Just one game for Niskanen? Baffling. [Athletic]
- That’s part of escalating nastiness and gamesmanship in that Flyers series. [Athletic]
- In the other Game 6, will the Blues make another goalie switch as they try to fend off the Canucks? [NHL]
- Ryan O’Reilly is fantastic in many many subtle ways. [Athletic]
- Dale Hawerchuk’s sons reminisce on the 31 Thoughts podcast. [Sportsnet]
- More on why Tuukka Rask left the bubble: medical emergency involving one of his children. [Post]
Dallas Stars coach Rick Bowness makes it clear that the bubble is weighing on the players and teams this deep into the playoffs. “People don’t understand how hard it is living in this bubble," he said. "This bubble living is not what you think it is.”— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) August 21, 2020