When I was a child, the Islanders made the Stanley Cup final every year and it took me several years — and some jolting heartbreak — to understand why that’s not an automatic thing.
I haven’t thought of that in a while, but I realized during Game 4 that my kids only know the Islanders as a team that makes the playoffs and wins a round (or more) each year.
They already take losses way better than I ever did, so hopefully whenever I have to explain it’s not always this way — indeed, it was no this way for a long, long time — it won’t be so hard. Hopefully that time doesn’t come this month.
The Isles are in Pittsburgh for Game 5 (7 p.m. EDT start) in a series tied 2-2. Whichever team survives this series, their second-round opponent is already resting. Victory and expedience, please.
- J-G Pageau says the mindset going into Game 5 is to “play like there’s no tomorrow.” [NHL]
- That was part of the theme, as they prepare to play amid the hostile road crowd. [Newsday]
- As in, all business, keep an even keel, etc. [Isles]
- Pageau on Brock Nelson: “He’s the guy that, when the level of the game gets higher, he elevates his game.” [Post] Nelson is also a tremendous pot-stirrer. [Athletic | Trib Live]
- Neil Best’s column also tapped into the praise for Nelson. [Newsday]
- The Isles have enjoyed a couple of big goals from defenseman, but it’s all part of the overall score-by-committee identity. [Isles]
- Three adjustments the Penguins could make to take back the series lead. [PensBurgh]
- A little more on the Isles “holding” Sidney Crosby at bay thus far. [Post]
- A little more on Jets (that’s football) guard Dan Feeny’s outstanding fan performance in Game 4. [Post | NHL]
The Penguins called off practice and had no media availability Sunday, so nothing new from them. I figure all their energy was devoted to Mario Lemieux writing a strongly worded memo to the league.
Sometimes a tweet captures exactly what’s nagging you. While I’m caught up in the moment of the playoffs, I’m never far from the underlying dread that the inability to fill the hole left by Anders Lee will be the Isles’ undoing.
If Leo is on that line to play heavy and dig the puck out of the corners... Like when during this series has he gone into a corner? When has he retrieved a puck? He's playing shallow and fleeing the zone. No pressure.— Bleuchz, had fun :p (@Bleuchz) May 22, 2021
There was lots of this on social highlighting Matt Moulson in the crowd for Game 4, but just wanted to capture Jenny’s vantage point here:
Matt Moulson right across from me lol let’s fucking go pic.twitter.com/f6cADAUtss— x - jenny berman (@barzalline) May 22, 2021
Beyond the Island and the Pitts
Busy playoff day yesterday but sadly two series are now already over. The Blues were swept away by the top-seeded Avs and the Bruins knocked off the Capitals in five. Nashville also won its second double-OT game in a row to even the series with Carolina, while Edmonton blew a 4-1 third-period lead to fall 5-4 in OT, and an 0-3 series hole.
The Oilers collapse was epic. Two goals in 16 seconds, three in 3:03. Brutal.
The Oilers were ahead 4-1 with less than half a period to play and Winnipeg just scored three unanswered to tie it. pic.twitter.com/69QHdjJkMU— SB Nation NHL (@SBNationNHL) May 24, 2021
- Mo’ problems: Oilers defenseman will have a disciplinary hearing for clipping. [NHL]
- Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe says Montreal’s physical approach will result in penalties. [TSN]
- Not only that, but they could lose a whole $5,000 like Shea Weber did for crosschecking! [NHL]
- Nick Foligno slides back to center with John Tavares out. [TSN]
- In a 3-1 hole and having two goalies blown up, the Panthers may turn to 20-year-old rookie Spencer Knight for Game 5. [NHL]
- The Capitals of course hope UFA Alex Ovechkin will return, but he’s not about to talk about his contract status with you people right now. [NHL]