The Carolina Hurricanes won their final game in regulation against the Florida Panthers, meaning Florida picked up no points and finished one point behind the New York Islanders. As such, Florida is WC2 and will begin the playoffs visiting the Boston Bruins, with the Islanders as WC1 and staying in the Metro Division bracket.
The Canes’ win also secured them the Metro Division title and the right to host WC1. Hey, that’s the Islanders. So it’s Hurricanes vs. Islanders in round one, and the NHL announced that Games 1 and 2 will be Monday and Wednesday, respectively. The Isles open on night one of the playoffs, seeking revenge for 2019. This time, at least, they start on the road, so the pressure isn’t on them as much as it is Carolina.
The league did not yet announce the full schedule, as the West matchups aren’t completely set. Bridgestone Arena in Nashville suffered flooding back in November or December, which forced the league to postpone the Predators’ game against the Colorado Avalanche. Because Colorado isn’t done yet, the Central Division title remains up in the air between them and the Dallas Stars. But the league already knows which days Dallas and Colorado are starting.
Anyway, the point of me saying all this is that if the NHL follows its typical day-on/day-off schedule for the Isles-Canes series, UBS Arena will host two weekend playoff games, Friday and Sunday, for Games 3 and 4. And won’t that be fun! But again, that’s not confirmed, and sometimes playoff schedules get wonky with a back-to-back or an extra day off somewhere. The expectation is that the league has its schedule ready to go and will release it once the games conclude later tonight. And I would expect Games 3 and 4 on Friday and Sunday for this reason alone:
No official schedule released for Round 1 for #Isles vs. #Canes, but with a concert happening at UBS Arena Thursday/Sat, looks like Game 3 and Game 4 would be Friday & Sunday.— Stefen Rosner (@stefen_rosner) April 14, 2023
Still awaiting official word. #Isles
I’m excited about the possibility of avenging that 2019 series loss, especially because it was a road sweep that ended in Carolina’s loud-ass building. Also, Carolina coach Rod the Bod Brind’Amour gave the Isles some bulletin board material when they faced off a week and a half ago. The Islanders begin their playoff preparations today, taking the ice soon for practice.
By the way, ESPN has the Monday national broadcasts, so the Islanders will open on ESPN. However, if you’re in the New York metro area (by all the games, he means in this series):
If you live in NY area we’ll have all of the games of @islesmsgn (except if a game airs on ABC) https://t.co/8XGSIpdTiJ— Eric Hornick (@ehornick) April 14, 2023
- The stories and articles from the various outlets about the first-round matchup being set. I have a bone to pick with the fate-tempting headline writer for the New York Post. [Islanders | Newsday | NY Post | THN] The link to the Isles’ site has instructions on how to get playoff tickets, if you’re so inclined.
- After a miserable January and then Mathew Barzal’s injury in February, the Islanders came together in the second half to rally for a berth. [Islanders]
- There were many unsung heroes of this playoff push, but Hudson Fasching is right up there. [THN]
- Stan Fischler examines the many reasons why the Islanders beat out a slew of challengers for a wild card. [THN]
- Early in the season, Mike and Dan said this season would be six months of playoffs, and it kind of was. Now that they finally clinched, last night was the “most relaxing night of the year.” A second emergency pod of the week, but a happy one. [LHH]
- It’s pretty cool that all three New York metro area teams made it to the postseason, and two of them are facing off. ESPN loves it, especially four of the broadcasters with ties to the teams in the area. [Newsday]
- This (Yester)Day in Isles History: John Tonelli saves the Dynasty, scoring the tying goal against the Penguins with less than three minutes remaining and the winning goal in overtime to advance beyond the first round (1982).
- Prepare to hear Sebastian Aho jokes for the next two weeks, like “Two Sebastian Ahos enter, but only one will survive” or “Congratulations to Sebastian Aho on advancing to the second round.” (If you’re Twitterfolk and want someone to follow in Carolina, Cory Lavalette is a Canes beat writer for The Athletic.)
4-7 games of Sebastian Ahos jokes— Cory Lavalette (@corylav) April 14, 2023
The original final night of the regular season’s scores include the Canes’ win in Florida, the Devils falling behind 3-0 in the first period to the Capitals (hey that sounds familiar) but actually coming back to win 5-4 in overtime (wait a minute) on Luke Hughes’ first NHL goal (oh wow). Finally, the Penguins died as they lived: conceding a third-period lead late in the game and losing in overtime to the Columbus Blue Jackets. I’m sure they were dejected coming into last night’s action, but for those counting at home, they would have clinched with four points in their final two games, and they got one. Teehee.
- Also, the Vegas Golden Knights just needed a win to clinch the Pacific Division and Western Conference, which they got. That locked in two of the Western Conference matchups. [NHL]
- Six of the eight first-round matchups, including the entire Eastern Conference, are set. And boy is there some doozies. Here’s the schedule for Games 1 and 2 around the league. [NHL]
- According to Frank Seravalli, who posted it Wednesday morning before the Pittsburgh Penguins were even eliminated, ownership has put the “wheels in motion” to clean house in the front office. Sadly, Dom’s campaign to get the Pens to keep Ron Hextall around didn’t work. [Daily Faceoff | PensBurgh]
- The thought all year was that Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog, who hasn’t played this season, would return for the end of the regular season if not Game 1. Well, he’s done for the year and won’t return at all, a tough blow. [NHL]
- Longtime Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews won’t be re-signed, so last night was his final game in the uniform. He got a proper send-off, taking an extra lap around the rink. [NHL] He’ll be remembered as a Chicago “legend.” [NHL]
- Gary Bettman voiced support for the public vote in Tempe, Arizona, to decide whether they’ll build a new arena. [NHL]
- Freddy Gaudreau will be a member of the Minnesota Wild for a while, signing a five-year, $10.5 million contract. [NHL]