I wake up today with excitement for a Game 6 and relief for the chance to keep this train rolling, while fully aware of the daunting challenge that remains.
The Islanders are a team that can function in a very machine-like way — when they have their full lineup. So it’s hard for me to envision how many times they can survive without Casey Cizikas and the lineup (and PK) hole his injury represents: whether going with 11 forwards in a three-centers-plus situation, or moving someone else to center, it seems the dam will break at some point.
But it didn’t break in Game 5 and I hope it doesn’t tonight. Hockey can be crazy, and some key Lightning players are looking a little banged up, so I’m looking at it this way: The Islanders are two wins away from a Stanley Cup final. I’ll take it.
News from the current Center of the Hockey Universe
- Dan and Mike discussed the euphoria and the pain of a double-OT with everything on the line, as well as the stupid national sports media narratives that miss some really good stories about this team. [Islanders Anxiety]
- Anders Lee is the hard-working, inspiring, perfect fit of a captain for the Islanders. He’s the cat’s pajamas, you might say. [Newsday]
- What’s the Islanders’ mindset heading into Game 6? The same, maybe do that again, maybe do it with less overtime. [Post]
- It’s “unwavering belief,” a headline writer might say. [Sportsnet]
- They know they’re the team under pressure though. [NHL]
- A Game 6 preview, with more of the mentality: “one life left.” [Isles]
- Brayden Point is still a question mark. (Probably save him for Game 7...?) [NHL]
- That’s a concern for Lightning fans, who see the team needing more offense. [Raw Charge]
- Andrew Gross reviews the state of things on his Island Ice podcast for Newsday.
- That huge four-minute penalty kill at the end of regulation and into OT of Game 5? It’s all a blur now to Trotz, who said they made some adjustments. [Post]
- More love for Johnny Boychuk, old ironside and his return to the lineup after six weeks watching games. [Isles]
Elsewhere (Which is Nowhere)
- The Wild have been active under Billy Guerin. Their latest move was to trade Staal The Elder to Buffalo for Marcus Johansson, with both players waiving no-trade clauses. [Sportsnet | NHL | Die by the Blade | Hockey Wilderness]
- ...and their extension of Jonas Brodin means Matt Dumba trade rumors will heat up. [Sportsnet | NHL | Hockey Wilderness]
- Joel Edmundson, a pending UFA whose rights were acquired by Montreal, has signed a new deal for four years. I assume reasonable non-stars will be jumping at such security in the current environment. [NHL | Sportsnet | Eyes on the Prize]
- Now there’s two Armies: Bill Armstrong, no relation to Doug Armstrong for whom he worked with the Blues, has been selected as the Coyotes’ next general manager. [Sportsnet | St. Louis Game Time | Five For Howling]
- Meanwhile, Jim Montgomery — a former Blue who was coach of the Cup finalist Stars until getting fired mid-season for unprofessional conduct — gets a new lease by replacing Marc Savard as an assistant on the Blues’ bench. [Sportsnet | STLtoday | St. Louis Game Time]