With the New York Islanders not participating in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, we have no particular team to root for. (Well, the Bridgeport Islanders can advance tonight with a win at home, but more on that below.) But on the other hand, many of their rivals did qualify, so we have plenty of teams to root against. And last night, the Hockey Gods served up a heaping pile of schadenfreude for us Isles fans.
The New York Rangers opened their first postseason in five years with a Game 1 home loss in triple-overtime to the Pittsburgh Penguins, a heartbreaking and exhausting way to lose. Teehee!
What is more, they led 2-0 and 3-2 at different points throughout the game, thought they had taken a 4-3 lead with three minutes remaining in regulation only to see the goal called back for obvious goaltender interference, and watched the Pens’ no. 2 goalie, Casey DeSmith, leave halfway through the second overtime with a cramp and be replaced by third-stringer and career AHL/NHL tweener Louis Domingue. Domingue came in ice-cold and made seventeen saves until Evgeni Malkin tipped home a John Marino point shot just under six minutes into the sixth period of the game. ESPN showed many shots like this one at the end.
May 4, 2022
Oof. Imagine going to your team’s first playoff game in five years and watching that unfold. Hehehehehe.
Now, that was only Game 1, so there is plenty of series left to be played. But the Penguins stole home ice and may have demoralized a young and playoff-inexperienced Rangers team with their comeback road triple-OT victory. I’m certainly not rooting for the Penguins—I could never, frankly—but I would prefer to see the Rangers out as soon as possible.
- It’s here! The 200th episode of Islanders Anxiety dropped this morning to close out the Isles’ season. They acknowledge that this year’s playoffs consist of many teams that Islanders fans hate, and they worry about the Leafs and Rangers having success—when they started recording, the Rangers were up 2-0, so I’m sure they were pleased later—and they discuss Zdeno Chara’s potential farewell and the potential farewell of other Islanders. [LHH]
- The Bridgeport Islanders host the Providence Bruins in Game 2 of their best-of-three series tonight at 7:00 p.m. If the B-Isles win, they’ll move on to the best-of-five second round against the Charlotte Checkers. [B-Isles]
- Kevin Kurz assigned grades to the Isles’ forwards, many of whose grades suffered from a slow start. But Brock Nelson got an ‘A’ and Zach Parise, for exceeding expectations, got an ‘A-.’ Nobody else hit ‘A,’ which sounds about right. D-Men and goalies come later. [The Athletic]
- Anders Lee, who received a ‘B’ because coming back from his ACL injury took longer than we expected but also received a nice mention from Kurz of how he is the definition of an NHL captain, is the Isles’ nominee for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, rewarding off-ice leadership and humanitarian community contributions. [Isles]
- It took a little while for these creatures of habit, but UBS Arena is starting to feel like home to the Islanders. [Islanders]
- This (Yester)Day in Isles History: The Islanders came back in the third period to steal Game 2 on the road against the Penguins (2013) and Semyon Varlamov’s franchise-record shutout streak ended at 248 minutes (2021).
- Stan Fischler catches up with one of those former Islanders that stuck around Long Island, fan-favorite Darius Kasparaitis. [Maven’s Memories]
- William Dufour finished the QMJHL season leading the junior league in goals (56) and tied for second in points (116). Let’s see what the fifth-rounder can do in the pros! [Prospect Report]
Last night’s playoff scores, besides the Rangers’ wonderful defeat, include the Capitals stealing Game 1 from the Panthers on the road with a comeback win in the third; the Avalanche dropping five first-period goals on the Predators en route to a rout; and the Flames scoring once early and hanging on to defeat the Stars, 1-0.
- Tom Wilson scored Washington’s first goal of the playoffs, but he left the game early with a lower-body injury. What a shame. [ESPN]
- Kyle Clifford received a suspension for the boarding penalty that got him ejected early in Game 1 of Leafs-Lightning. [NHL] Pat Maroon, Corey Perry, and Wayne Simmonds each received fines for their unsportsmanlike conduct at the end of the game. [NHL]
- Wild captain (and former Islanders draft pick) Jared Spurgeon did not get suspended for attempting to break Pavel Buchnevich’s ankle with a cross-check late in the Wild’s Game 1 loss to the Blues. He received only a fine. [ESPN]
- Linus Ullmark sort of fell apart as Game 1 wore on, but his Bruins teammates and coaches aren’t pinning the loss to Carolina on him and are instead placing it at their own feet. [ESPN] At that point, Bruce Cassidy hadn’t named a Game 2 starter, but we know now that it will be Ullmark again tonight. [NHL]
- Rangers-Penguins is a war of youth vs. experience—the challengers trying to take down the old guard. Entertaining, to say the least. [THN]
Coaching and Other News
- It sounds like the Canucks will exercise the option in Bruce Boudreau’s contract to keep him around for another season, but they won’t give him an extension just yet. Now it’s a matter of whether Boudreau wants to continue under those circumstances. [NHL]
- Former Islander Derek King is still in the running for the Blackhawks coaching gig after a decent run (considering his roster) as the interim coach. [ESPN]
- The Flyers wisely won’t let Mike Yeo continue on as head coach, but he may stick around the organization in another capacity. [NHL]
- Also around Philly, Samuel Morin, the big boy that took on Ross Johnston last season, announced his retirement at age 24 due to knee issues that won’t go away. Tough to see a career end so early. [TSN]
- Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, Pete DeBoer says that he wants to be back as Golden Knights coach but that he has to discuss it with management, first, after their end-of-season collapse. [NHL]