Anders Lee spoke of the pride in the New York Islanders locker room, the love and care and fight “the boys” have for one another. He doesn’t see why his group can’t remain a contender.
Scott Mayfield was asked about how this run raised the bar for franchise expectations, and he said, “The bar’s always been set high here. Maybe this year shows other people why we think it is.” (This no-longer-kid grew up a few miles from me, so I’m always intrigued by his experience and thoughts on the franchise I’ve followed since before he was born.)
Barry Trotz said you learn a lot about your team going through adversity like this summer, the number of series, the injuries, some overtime and late losses, and two consecutive games killing off double-minors in sudden death.
“This is one of the most resilient teams I’ve coached, and I’ve coached for a long time,” Trotz said.
The Islanders’ run ended last night in overtime of Game 6 in the Eastern Conference final. They mounted an unexpectedly deep run in these bubble playoffs, thanks to a deep roster with an unwavering commitment to their Trotzian philosophy of play.
Unlike their opponents in the Lightning, the Isles roster isn’t deep enough to survive a Steven Stamkos-size loss. So one wonders how much longer they’d have lasted with Casey Cizikas (detached retina) and Adam Pelech (broken wrist) out for the rest of the playoffs. But the surprise contributions from Johnny Boychuk and Noah Dobson, at opposite ends of their careers, were a nice albeit brief tonic for two guys that spent the last two months mostly watching. Everybody sacrificed to be a part of this.
While there are some tricky RFA situations with key players to navigate, the Isles have some really exciting core pieces — like a beloved addition in J-G Pageau and a promising “playoff monster” in Brock Nelson — plus the possibility that Ilya Sorokin will step in and be a top-tier goalie.
I know we all had a blast on this ride, so thanks to all of you for riding along with us. Thanks for making every comment green after the life-affirming wins. Thanks for the random Phish references. We occasionally have to do annoying moderation tasks, but the contributions from our commentariat usually add to the fun, which can be needed diversions from the rest of 2020 reality.
Meanwhile...I’ve been managing this site since before YouTube was just an OK Go curiosity and Facebook was only for college kids, so I regularly wonder what it or tech trends will look like tomorrow. And I appreciate this chance to connect, fist-pump, cry and commiserate with Islanders fans — many of you who were regulars at this site back before I had kids, kids who now have vocabularies and cheered the Isles this summer as they beat “the Tigers, the Hockey Sticks, and the Flys” before losing to “the Thunders” this round. (If you have access to a 5-year-old, have them interpret all of the logos of the 31 NHL teams. Do it. Do it now. It is one of their few added values to the household.) So...thank you!
Now we have a strange and compressed offseason to look forward to, plus the uncertainty of what next season will look like for the entire league. Time marches on. Uncertainty is part of it. Lou will find some answers...or call in a favor.
- Barry Trotz said Pelech hurt himself early in Game 5 and got by on adrenaline (he played 32 minutes!!), but his injury — reportedly a broken wrist — will need surgery. What a year of extremes for him.
- About last night: Steve’s recap [LHH | Isles Notebook | Newsday highlights Varlamov’s performance | Post recap]
- Trotz says Dobson will be a big part of the future and the now. [NHL]
- Adam Pelech requires surgery. [Newsday]
- Hold the questions about the future for the moment, and appreciate the ride and the sacrifices it took to make it happen. [Athletic]
- Trotz knows that often there is hardship before championship and he is here for it. [Post]
- “You find out what a terrific person he is and how he’s integrated with the other players. He’s fit in seamlessly.” Seeing the Islanders’ playoff run has been huge for Ilya Sorokin. [Post]
- The end or “bonus” thoughts in Elliotte Friedman’s weekly column include praise for Pulock-Pelech and theorizing that Cizikas’ injury is ultimately what caused the late game-losing goal in Game 2. [31 Thoughts]
- This was the fourth time that the Islanders were eliminated in OT. [NYI Skinny]
- I don’t care about other sports so these discussions are always foreign to me, but: The Islanders are the kings of New York. [ESPN]
- After that exciting run winning playoff series in Toronto, I almost forgot about what’s next: a dream rises at Belmont. [LI Herald]
Here are the full clips from the post-game media availabilities quoted above:
“This is one of the most resilient teams I've coached & I've coached for a long time. I'm really proud of what we’ve done & the strides we’ve made, but we’re obviously very disappointed because this group felt it could represent the East & hopefully play for the Stanley Cup.” pic.twitter.com/s6VVMYZJ3f— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) September 18, 2020
“The bar has always been set high. This year shows others how high we think it is. With the staff and the ownership we have here, we've turned the corner and we showed that these past two years. It hurts now, but that’s a silver lining. It’s trending in the right direction.” pic.twitter.com/7quqQPqSiC— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) September 18, 2020
“Pride, character, resiliency. It’s a special group in that room & until that very last minute, we believed in each other, what we were doing & the road we were on. Obviously we came up short, but there’s a huge sense of pride in every single one of those guys in our room.” pic.twitter.com/mdw0oxAbn6— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) September 18, 2020
About that Double-Minor Call
The double-minor at the end of Game 5 was a no-brainer. The one last night in Game 6 was...debatable. There seems to be a mis-perception that if there is blood, it’s automatically four minutes. That’s not true (as we’ve experienced painfully as Islanders fans). But more importantly, what are they calling there? Waiting for blood to arrive, like the ball dropping in the cup at the end of Caddyshack? Interesting discussion about it here:
Thank You, Islanders
Jenny sum it up best:
I’m really just sad it’s over. Without Cizikas and Pelech we were gonna be in trouble going forward. But this was such a fun time in the middle of what has obviously been a terrible year for so many reasons. I’ll even miss Leo Komarov sending plays offside for no reason.— jenny berman (@barzalline) September 18, 2020
After last night, I’m not much concerned with the rest of the league, but here are a few links.
- Getting to know Bill Armstrong, the new GM of the Coyotes. [NBC Sports]
- It was initially reported that Eric Staal waived his no-trade clause for the trade to Buffalo, but it turns out he was blindsided, and Buffalo wasn’t on his no-trade list because why would such a terrible team trade for him? [Athletic]