So it was strange this year, with the Panthers qualifying round, to be up 2-0 and think, “Wait...series is basically over?!” Except maybe not, because three is less daunting than four.
I am completely used to the mindset of the best-of-seven. And that mindset is: 0-2 is bad but not insurmountable, 0-3 requires a miracle.
Even with a few contrary examples in the last decade, where a couple of NHL teams finally pushed the 1975 Islanders down on the “Last team in pro sports to every come back from an 0-3 series deficit” chyron, we know in our hearts 0-3 is the end. 0-2 is really daunting, but 0-3 is a hopeless end-of-life, just put us out of our misery kind of thing.
That’s what makes Game 3 in a series like this so intriguing. It’s the fulcrum between either an almost guaranteed sweep and a potentially long series.
The Islanders played well enough in Game 2 to make this series 1-1 — Trotz called the series on the edge of “flipping” — but failing that, they have the ability to make it 1-2 tonight instead. But do they have it in them?
We’ll refute or confirm tonight. If they lose, commence with the national “they just wanna leave the bubble” narrative that has accompanied each of the teams they’ve dispatched on this run.
- The Islanders must believe in themselves (pretty sure they do) in Game 3. [Best at Newsday]
- They do feel better about themselves after the overall rebound from Game 1. [Newsday]
- Would totally help if the power play converted though. [NHL]
- Here’s another breakdown of those fatal final 30 seconds in Game 2, this time from Justin Bourne. A non-Isles-fan friend of mine thought Ryan Pulock must feel horrible, but this perspective makes him almost the most blameless of the entire unit. [Sportsnet]
- On the ice for that play, as you well know, was Andrew Ladd in his first game in forever. [Newsday]
- Alex Killorn was suspended one game for his idiotic hit on Brock Nelson in Game 2. Still don’t understand what was going through the Lightning forward’s head. [TSN | NHL]
- Brayden Point also may miss Game 3, and his undisclosed prognosis could be huge for their overall playoff hopes. [Sportsnet | NHL]
- That means former Islanders property (remember the Grabner salary dump?) and useful forward Carter Verhaeghe may be involved. [NHL]
- The Islanders are a reminder that every once in a while, a team can excel without a superstar blueliner. [Down Goes Brown @ Athletic]
- This may be a different Lightning team than in recent years (which is what I’ve been afraid of: them applying past lessons now). [Raw Charge]
- The Stars took a 2-1 series lead when Alex Radulov scored 31 seconds into overtime of Game 3 vs. the Knights. There was goalie-contact controversy on the Vegas equalizer, clarified by the league, that sent the game to overtime.
- At least 17 teams and the league office have reduced pay for employees during the pandemic. The Islanders are not on this list of confirmed teams. [TSN]
- Sean Couturier has won the Selke for best defensive forward. [NHL | TSN]
- The Bruins will begin contract talks with Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug, but are far from certain on how it will go. [NHL]
Every Bit of Elsewhere
How big of a sports fan are you? My interests are pretty narrow quirky, but even I can appreciate how yesterday must’ve been for people who care about even half of these sports: