That was a regulation win the New York Islanders needed to have, and they did exactly what they needed to do to secure it. They controlled the run of play over the Buffalo Sabres for most of the game, save the first few minutes of the first and second periods. They bored everyone to tears, but they did it. And by the way, it’s not a kick if the puck hits the player’s shin, Sabres fans.
I don’t know, man. I was there last night, and that was exciting as hell. I’ve seen so many people on Twitter complaining like “how do their fans watch this every night?” Because it helps our team win games, dumbass. Is that not the point of hockey? The Islanders tried to open it up earlier this season. It didn’t work for them.
Perhaps the Sabres would have made the playoffs once in the last eleven years if they played a little boring here and there. Maybe P.K. Subban would have a Stanley Cup on his resume or would even still be playing today, instead of being 33 and making tired jokes on a streaming-only broadcast, if he knew how to play a bit of boring hockey as his body broke down. Ryan Callahan is a born-and-raised Sabres fan who became captain of the Rangers, so his Isles hatred runs deep, but it’s rich seeing him complain about it considering he only ever looked good playing that style of hockey.
Islanders fans love watching this team play games. We joke on here about the clamps, but it’s true: We all seem genuinely happy to see them playing Trotzian hockey again. Back in the two semifinal runs, especially in 2021 when we could actually be in the building, we cheered every little defensive play in the third period while holding a lead.
We’re back to cheering dump-ins and non-icings midway through the third period and I couldn’t be happier— Michael Leboff (@TheBigLeebowski) March 8, 2023
I’m going to sound arrogant and smug here, but frankly, it’s an understanding of the game that people who are like “goals machine go BRRRR” maybe just can’t comprehend. I don’t want to call other fans dumb—though I’ll happily call any hockey media person complaining about the sport they watch dumb—but the Islanders do thrive when everyone hates them and us as their fans, so I’m happy to do my part.
In any event, with that regulation win, the Islanders are now firmly in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot despite having more games played than everyone around them in the race. They’re in a playoff spot both by points and by points percentage, and they have significantly more regulation wins (the first tiebreaker) than everyone in the race besides the Florida Panthers, who still have one fewer. At the moment, the Senators and Sabres could not pass the Islanders, all things being equal, even if they won all their games in hand. The Islanders needed to answer the bell last night, and boy did they ever.
About last night:
- As Dom wrote, it was “a professional job” dismantling the Sabres. [LHH]
- They’re all must-wins these days, but at least they’re winning them. [Newsday]
- It was the Bailey-Cizikas-Fasching line that carried the day. [3 Takeaways]
- Hudson Fasching in particular had a huge game against the club with whom he made his NHL debut. His new teammates are incredibly proud of him—Casey Cizikas said he was a “monster” down low. [NYI Hockey Now]
- Josh Bailey isn’t used to a depth role, but he’s been effective in it. And the man knows how to step up in big games, that’s for sure. [Newsday | NY Post]
- The Isles aren’t looking behind them, only at what’s in front of them. [The Athletic]
- The Islanders improved their playoff chances with the regulation win. [NY Post]
- They’re also a season-high eight games over NHL .500, the first time they have achieved that feat since the 2021 COVID-shortened season. [NYI Skinny]
- As noted above, they’re all must-wins, so the Islanders can’t afford any missteps. [Newsday]
- Today is International Women’s Day, and to celebrate, the Islanders last night held their second annual women’s broadcast on the WRHU airwaves. [Islanders]
Last night’s NHL scores include the Penguins erasing a 4-0 deficit to beat the Blue Jackets 5-4 in overtime (God, Columbus sucks) and the Panthers defeating the Golden Knights 2-1 in regulation (God, Vegas sucks).
- The Lightning were without Victor Hedman, but they didn’t need him as they trounced the Flyers to snap their skid. [NHL]
- In that game, rageaholic Tony DeAngelo speared Corey Perry where the sun don’t shine—given the actors here, I’m doing that Larry David Curb GIF—and will have a hearing for it. [Twitter]
- HUGE trade deadline acquisition Ryan O’Reilly will miss four weeks with a broken finger. [NHL]
- Jakob Chychrun scored his first goal as a Senator on Saturday night with his grandfather in the crowd, and Jakob was touched to see his reaction. [NHL]
- The Devils and Kraken separately wore warm-up jerseys to celebrate gender equality. [NHL]
- On the other side of the equality spectrum, the Wild pulled back at the last minute from wearing their Pride-themed warmup jerseys. Bunch of cowards—it feels like we’re moving backward. [Uni Watch]
- The University of Wisconsin ousted men’s hockey coach and brother of Sabres’ coach Don, Tony Granato. [Badger Extra]