It will be a tough matchup. Both teams have depth and play within a fairly tight structure. The Bolts also have the superstar advantage in the bag, carrying names like Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, and Andrei Vasilevskiy (which I still remember how to spell from this past September). Frankly, it is no wonder that they have returned to the Stanley Cup Semifinal—besides all those superstars, Tampa Bay has some solid depth.
But the Islanders do not care. They took down two of the NHL’s best of all-time, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, in the first round in defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins. They took down one of the best lines in the league against the Boston Bruins. It should come as no surprise that they reached the Semifinal, as well.
Plus, who doesn’t love a rematch less than a year later? The narratives practically write themselves!
Practice today.— x - New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) June 12, 2021
Game 1 tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/bb4aEhWsmP
Islanders vs. Lightning News
- LISTEN! Dan and a very hoarse Mike recap Games 5 and 6 against the Bruins, talk about how they feel about the series win and then look ahead to the machine that awaits the Isles in the Semifinal. [LHH]
- We have got series previews galore. [NHL | Islanders | Newsday]
- Dom Luszczyszyn’s model favors the Lightning. But even he acknowledged not to count out the Islanders, who have beaten the odds in five of the six playoff series that they have won over the last three years with their team identity and killer instinct. Could you ever imagine reading these things about the Islanders? [The Athletic]
- A reminder about the schedule, in which they play every other night and, besides Game 1, all will be at 8:00 p.m. [Islanders | Newsday]
- Sounds like Travis Zajac will not be leaving the lineup just yet. He has played well, though.
Trotz: Wahlstrom still day to day. Everybody traveling to Tampa. When Wahlstrom is available, no guarantee he goes right back in. Have to consider matchups, how everybody else is playing.— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) June 12, 2021
- WATCH! Justin Bourne and Jesse Fuchs break down the Isles-Bolts series. [Sportsnet]
- Their quotes appear in the stories that follow, but please enjoy this collection of quotes from Mathew Barzal, Matt Martin, and other players, as well as the men in charge. [LHH]
Cizikas on the upcoming series: "They're going to have to beat us. We're not going to beat ourselves." #Isles— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) June 12, 2021
- The Islanders have unfinished business with the Lightning, another reason not to count out the Isles here. They were heartbroken when they lost to Tampa Bay in Game 6 last year. [NHL]
- And they are excited for a second crack at the defending champs. To paraphrase Brock Nelson, who borrowed it from Ric Flair: To be the best, you have to beat the best. [Newsday]
- The Deadspin take on the Isles’ victory over the Bruins features some of the usual talking points but expresses some backhanded love for Nassau Coliseum. [Deadspin]
- In that vein, the crowds in both arenas in this Semifinal series will bring extra life to the match-up. [NY Post]
- Barzal is the Isles’ X-factor in the Semifinal. [NBC Sports]
- Martin will have to miss his brother-in-law’s wedding because it is the same time as Game 4. The Esiason family completely understands, though. [Newsday]
- Isles’ anthem singer Nicole Raviv loves that the crowd has joined in singing the Star-Spangled Banner. [Newsday | NY Post]
Time for Some Predictions
- Only four out of fifteen NHL site writers, including Isles fan Brian Compton, picked the Islanders. [NHL]
- The Athletic overwhelmingly picked the Bolts. [The Athletic]
- As did their anonymous coach, scout, and executive. [The Athletic]
- But ESPN was split just about right up the middle. [ESPN]
- And finally, I linked it above with the preview, but in Newsday’s preview, Andrew Gross picked the Isles in seven, while Neil Best and Colin Stephenson picked the Lightning. [Newsday]
Non-Playoff Isles News
- Not the time for it, really, which Arthur Staple acknowledges, but something coming down the pike: Who will be on the Isles’ protected list when the expansion draft rolls around? [The Athletic]
- Some Floral Park residents—who claim that they have supported UBS Arena from the beginning—have some concerns about Empire State Development’s transparency. [LI Herald]
Beyond Long Island and North and Central and West Florida
- No games last night or today. The NHL took an early weekend to make up for its Sunday shift.
- Who is the front-runner for the Conn Smythe? Jean-Gabriel Pageau is the Islander that they decided to include, with good reason. [Sportsnet]
- Some brawling in two second-round series: A Vegas Golden Knights fan stole a Colorado Avalanche fan’s flag in Game 6, causing a fight. [Yahoo] Also, a Winnipeg Jets fan was allegedly assaulted by Montreal Canadiens fans after Game 4. [Yahoo] Calm down, folks. It’s just hockey.
- The Buffalo Sabres are ready to move on from Jack Eichel. Things are going well upstate. [Yahoo]
- The Arizona Coyotes will be interviewing St. Louis Blues assistant coach Mike Van Ryn for their vacant head coach position. [St. Louis Game Time]
- Pierre LeBrun uncovered some interesting wrinkles involving the Seattle Kraken’s entry to the league, including an exclusive window to speak to UFAs before the expansion draft, effectively nullifying the idea of not re-signing pending UFAs until after the expansion draft to maximize the protected list. If they snagged any, that player would count as the Kraken’s expansion pick from that team. [The Athletic]
- The Kraken can learn from the Golden Knights that picking the best player available from each team was not the best strategy—maximizing your return is the best strategy. [The Athletic]
- Some league business updates, including the latest updates on ESPN and Turner’s new broadcasters. Our very own A.J. Mleczko is in serious talks with ESPN. [The Athletic]