It’s September. The Islanders are playing NHL hockey in September. Not preseason NHL hockey, but NHL hockey that counts.
I know the whole thing is absurd and I shouldn’t be so awestruck every time I write one of these. But, I mean, come on!
Most importantly, the Islanders have a chance to eliminate the top-seeded Flyers in tonight’s Game 5 and in so doing, punch their first ticket to the Eastern Conference Final since 1993.
For context, the 1992-93 was the last season the NHL used historical division and conference names. The last time the Islanders were in a conference final, it was the Prince of Wales Conference Final; they had just won the Patrick Division Final. The name of their division has changed twice since then. In other words, it’s time.
(Keep an eye out for a new Islanders Anxiety before the game tonight.)
- Thomas Greiss was huge in Game 4, having arguably the best game of an Islanders goalie in these playoffs. [Islanders]
- And he’s humble! He says that Semyon Varlamov should start Game 5 tonight. [Newsday]
- In the past two seasons, the eventual Stanley Cup champs only made minor deadline moves, if any at all. But this year, the big moves are paying off—like acquiring Jean-Gabriel Pageau, for example. [LeBrun @ The Athletic]
- This is the best run the Islanders have made in Josh Bailey’s 12-year tenure and his play has been key to it. [Newsday]
- Greiss, Pageau, and Bailey feature in Arthur Staple’s takeaways from the past weekend’s games. As do the goals that just trickled over the line. [The Athletic]
- Broad Street Hockey learned that the Islanders are tough to beat even when the Flyers play well, like they did Sunday. [BSH]
- “Beau for Conn Smythe” might be picking up some traction—THN has Anthony Beauvillier at no. 4 in their Conn Smythe rankings. Varlamov and Pageau come in at nos. 8 and 10, respectively.
- Luke Fox is ready to call this series. I appreciate the confidence in the Isles, and his reasoning is sound. But Mr. Fox, hold your horses, please. [Sportsnet]
- And here’s why: in 2015, the Barry Trotz-led Capitals blew a 3-1 series lead to the Alain Vigneault-led Rangers in the second round and were eliminated. Trotz doesn’t think that’ll happen again, though. [Newsday]
- Oliver Wahlstrom was loaned out to AIK in HockeyAllsvenskan, the second-best league in Sweden. He and Simon Holmstrom, loaned to a different Allsvenskan team, are able to return when the Islanders open training camp for next season. [LHH | Islanders]
- The Coliseum is again at a crossroads. After the Islanders move to Belmont, what becomes of the old barn and the land on which it sits? [Newsday Editorial]
Did you get some Italian ices?
Last night’s NHL scores include the Lightning earning a trip to Edmonton and the Eastern Conference Final, knocking off the Bruins in double overtime, and the Avalanche using a 5-goal first period to stave elimination and beat the Stars 6-3.
- It is the fifth consecutive week the NHL has not had any positive COVID-19 tests. The bubble works. [NHL]
- The Rangers hired Jacques Martin, long-time head coach for a few teams and recently fired as an assistant by the Penguins, to replace Lindy Ruff as an assistant. (An aside: I keep forgetting the Devils hired Ruff to be their head coach.) [NHL]
- Emerson Etem is no longer playing hockey, but he’s coaching it in Montana. [Color of Hockey]