How are you feeling, Islanders Country, Lighthouse regulars, and accidental visitors?
After the Islanders threw the season away in D.C. on Monday night, the Penguins returned it on Tuesday, and the Isles were able to achieve the modest task which was their charge on Wednesday, the Elmont boys are on their way to the postseason, while the Penguins are on their way to Columbus for the saddest season finale in memory.
Me, I’m where I was two months ago: Assuming this won’t go far at all, but along to enjoy the ride as always. Mathew Barzal and Alex Romanov are skating, so maybe they’ll appear in the postseason. Bo Horvat finally gets back to the playoffs and should enjoy some electric home fans. Ilya Sorokin can steal games and even series. (You can already see the “in the end, you need the goaltending” stories if/when the Isles steal a game or two.)
The Islanders have returned to the postseason after a one-season hiatus. They’ll face a really good team in the first round. They will be severe underdogs. They’ll probably do something, or many things, to make us hate them again like they did on Monday.
But it’s the playoffs. It should be fun! And terrifying.
About last night:
- Brock and Zach and the boys rise to the occasion. [LHH]
- It only took 82 games, but the Islanders clinched. [Newsday]
- “Pretty gratifying,” Lane Lambert says. [NHL]
- It took two months of .680 hockey without Barzal, but they did it. (Wait! That makes it sound like they have a chance...?) [Post]
- Three Takeaways: “Everyone was ready right from puck drop and fans were engaged.” [Isles]
- Best’s column: They bounced back, they took care of business. [Newsday]
- They did just enough. [AMNY]
- Romanov and Barzal “could” return sometime in the playoffs. [Newsday]
- The Isles must make the most of this chance. [AMNY]
- Not six, and not eight, but seven reasons the Isles made the playoffs, including a season sweep of the lowly Penguins. But also this, Lee on Nelson: “I don’t know if it’s him getting up, it’s his ability in these big moments to stay within the moment and keep his head and just really almost in some ways slow the game down.” [Athletic]
- Stan Fischler recalls a similar heart-stopping finish to the 1989-90 season on his 58th birthday, when the Isles won their final must-win game and then had to root for the Penguins to lose. Future Islander Uwe Krupp was the hero. [THN]
- Brooks ranks the top 1-20 Islanders of all-time but forgets that Palffy was Slovakian, not Czech. [Post]
- Beating the Rangers for the first of many, many times with Parise heroics helped put the Isles on the map, [Isles]
- And now...what this playoff push is really about, [Isles]
About the Penguins, Who Are Bad
Look, I guess I’m a jaded old man who remembers way too much about the NHL history he’s lived through, but all this talk of “oh no, the Penguins’ playoff streak is over, they’ve been in the playoffs forever” has caught me off guard.
‘Cause yes, the Penguins have been an Isles nemesis (though not much lately, not at all), and yes, they’ve won Cups during that run with their latest tank-fueled roster, but...I still think of the Penguins as a twice-bankrupt, thrice-tanking doormat that tanked-and-lucked into two of the top generational players in hockey history.
The postseason is faaaaaar from their birthright, and the current era is overdue for a Blackhawks-like crash, at least until they get Connor Bedard or some other prize through another tank job. The Penguins are done.
Beyond the Igloo
Last night’s other NHL scores didn’t affect much, though the Stars kept their Sunday bid alive.
- The Sabres have missed the postseason for 12 consecutive seasons, almost as long as the Penguins’ playoff strea— oops, that one’s over! [NHL]
- Don’t troll, but feel free to gawk: Penguins fans relive their “worst loss in history.” [PensBurgh]
- Lots of #firehextall going around last night (so please, join me in combatting it), but his work at his previous stop is still being lamented, too. [Broad Street Hockey] (Personally, I don’t want to hear other teams’ fans whine about the damage Hextall can wreak, I remember Hextall in ‘94 and what he did that year. Thankfully the league canceled the playoffs and didn’t award the Cup to anyone.)
- Luke Hughes made a good first impression in his debut with the Devils and I already hate that whole family. [NHL]
- How the Jets got their season back on track. [Sportsnet]