There is nothing like a beautiful spring day capped off with playoff hockey, and it’s especially thrilling when your team is involved. No hockey will be played today, but it all begins tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. ET when the officials drop the puck between the Carolina Hurricanes and our beloved New York Islanders.
The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2 and locally on MSGSN, so we get one round of Brendan Burke, Butch Goring, and Thomas Hickey. I believe Alan Fuehring will host the pre-game/intermission/post-game, as Shannon Hogan’s baby is due soon. Fear not, out-of-market fans. The ESPN2 team on Games 1 and 2 will be led by Mike Monaco, who had the excellent call on Ilya Sorokin’s paddle save on Erik Gustafsson in the Toronto game a few weeks back. He’ll be joined by an old friend in AJ Mleczko, and Dominic Moore. No John Buccigross, no Leah Hextall.
The Islanders practiced on Long Island one more time today before heading down to Raleigh. Matt Martin was back on the ice after a maintenance day yesterday. Alex Romanov will travel down to North Carolina with the team, but we already know he’s out for Game 1 and seems likely to be out for Game 2, as well.
The beards are on their way, and the helmets have been adorned with decals. Let’s ride, folks.
Last practice on the Island before heading to Raleigh! pic.twitter.com/0udGVjYXSI— x - New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) April 16, 2023
It all starts tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/WASOxhYmYv— x - New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) April 16, 2023
- Isles Day to Day has more on Martin’s maintenance day yesterday.
- Three keys to the series will be Mathew Barzal’s return to the lineup, Carolina’s ability to shoot in volume (and whether the Islanders can keep them to the outside), and the goaltending duel. [Newsday]
- A series preview courtesy of Joe Pantorno. [amNY]
- Bo Horvat is back in the playoffs for only the third time in his career and the first time since the 2020 bubble playoffs. He hasn’t played playoff hockey in front of fans since the Vancouver Canucks bowed out in the 2014-15 first round, his rookie year. He has been pretty good in his limited playoff experience. [Islanders]
- By contrast, Zach Parise is headed down his 14th postseason, a history that includes a trip to the 2012 Stanley Cup Final. [Islanders]
- Ilya Sorokin has only one NHL playoff run to his name, but he had seven different postseason runs in the KHL, so he knows what it’s all about. [NY Post]
- Making his postseason debut will be Samuel Bolduc, he of only a handful of NHL games. It will be a learning experience for the young gun, but he’ll be relied upon. [Newsday | THN] There will be less room for error, although I wouldn’t expect him to lollygag back to retrieve dumped pucks on the power play. [NY Post]
- The whole team is excited to be back in the playoff spotlight, having been unable to participate in those big moments last spring. [Newsday]
- Some scouts say that the Islanders are a “bad matchup” for the Hurricanes, who rely on volume shooting and forechecking. [The Athletic] The Islanders worked on quick breakouts while being forechecked today to try to negate Carolina’s aggressive forecheck. [Twitter]
- Stan Fischler proclaims Lou Lamoriello as the biggest reason that the Islanders qualified for the postseason. [THN]
- The NHL dot com writers make their picks for the first round. It’s a dead-even split—8/16 for each team—in the Islanders-Canes series, with most of the local-area writers picking the Islanders. [NHL]
The playoff players have off for the weekend before getting back to work on Monday. Well, most of them are practicing, but they’re off from game action.
- Ilya Samsonov and the Toronto Maple Leafs feel confident entering the playoffs. I think if there was ever a year the Leafs were going to knock off the Tampa Bay Lightning, this would be the year to do it. [NHL]
- The Seattle Kraken are giving the new market a taste of playoff fever in only their second year of existence. [NHL]
- Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals have a big summer ahead if they want to return to contention next year. [NHL]
- Same with Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. It feels like the end of an era with both teams missing this year. Teehee! [NHL]