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Islanders Playoff Gameday News: Today’s the day! Game 1 at noon!

The sun is shining, the ice is clean, and we are watching Isles playoff hockey.

NHL: FEB 27 Penguins at Islanders
Semyon Varlamov will be ready for today’s Game 1.
Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Places, everyone! Today at noon, the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins drop the puck on Game 1 of their first-round series.

Oh man, have we been anxiously awaiting the start of this series. The anticipation has been killing me. At least we don’t have to sit around all day waiting for the game to begin. We will get right at it.

This core of Islanders now has ample experience on which to rely going into this series. They proverbially “know what it takes to win.” Not to mention, they employ one of the league’s top goaltenders. They boast one of the NHL’s best defense pairings in Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock, who will be key in neutralizing Pittsburgh’s high-powered offense.

The postseason is a clean slate, and the Islanders can wipe away their struggles from the end of the regular season. They are built for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and I bet that this afternoon, they are going to remind us of that.

To that end, it seems that this season’s playoff slogan is “Defend NY.” That sounds appropriate for the team that this season conceded the second-fewest goals in the NHL.

Playoffs Islanders News

  • The Isles site previews the Game 1 match-up. [Islanders]
  • It also previewed the entire series. [Islanders] So did the NHL site. [NHL]
  • Thankfully, it appears that Semyon Varlamov will be good to go today. He practiced yesterday after skating Friday with the taxi squad and black aces. [Newsday | NHL]
  • Varlamov comes in at no. 5 in the list of playoff goalie power rankings. [NHL]
  • He is also one of the 3 Keys to Game 1, as this season, he struggled with the Pens, despite his sterling overall numbers. [NHL]
  • During Barry Trotz’s first season on Long Island, the Islanders made it to Round Two. In his second season, the Conference Finals. The third time’s a charm for capitalizing? [Best @ Newsday]
  • Climbing that mountain will require one step at a time, though—especially to make it through the grueling East Division playoffs. [Newsday]
  • As we know, Offside Tavern has returned as a pop-up for the start of the playoffs. [Islanders]
  • Listen to Trotz and get amped for today’s game.

Regular Islanders News

  • The Empire State Building lit up in blue and orange to support the Islanders, the most successful New York franchise over the last few years. ...Which is not saying much, I know, but when was the last time that we could say that? [Islanders]

Beyond Long Island and Western Pennsylvania

Last night, the Washington Capitals scored a fluky goal less than four minutes into overtime to take Game 1 from the Boston Bruins, who tied the game in the second period with a fluky goal of their own.

  • Washington starting goalie Vítek Vaněček, making his playoffs debut, left the game with a lower-body injury that he suffered as he stretched out, to no avail, to catch Jake DeBrusk’s goal, Boston’s first of the game. Craig Anderson, who played only four games this season, filled in admirably. [NHL]
  • Tough break for Dom and the St. Louis Blues—their leading scorer, David Perron, landed on the COVID-19 protocol list. He finished the season at a point-per-game. [NHL]
  • WATCH: The East Division is, by far, the NHL’s most physical, as well as its closest and most competitive. [Sportsnet]
  • Picks, picks, and more picks: ESPN is fairly split on the Isles-Pens series.
  • Series picks are not enough, though. We need some bold predictions, too. [ESPN]
  • A burning question for all sixteen playoff teams. [Sportsnet]
  • This year’s Norris Trophy is closer than it has been in years. Victor Hedman will probably win it, but his faltering play down the stretch ought to disqualify him. [Yahoo]