The NHL playoffs are here! And after a one-year hiatus, the Islanders are back.
In terms of periods of time where the Isles making the playoffs was special but not shocking, this current era of 2019-2023, feels so so different than that 2002-2007 era, and different still from the 2013-16 era. Each were rebounds from periods of futility. Each offered some close series that could have gone either way as well as series where the Isles looked thoroughly outmatched.
Maybe it’s the recency bias of having won series and gone on conference finals runs under BarryTrotz, or maybe it’s the atmosphere of having ownership able and willing to spend, but the current period feels like the team belongs here. Like in years where they don’t make it or don’t advance, they should have the resources to fix things quickly.
We’ll see how it goes. In the Trotz areas, they weren’t exactly heading into the playoffs firing on all cylinders each year, yet they made noise. Today, there’s a school of thought that they are a playoff-tested group (with a great goalie) that could be a tough out, and then there’s a school of thought that, like the fellow wild card Panthers, they are an incomplete team whose flaws are about to be exposed in that painful way a playoff elimination does so well.
Game coverage is on MSG locally, ESPN2 nationally in the U.S. and Sportsnet 360/TVAS2 in Canada.
- Dan and Mike discuss the upcoming series and the trend to pick the Islanders as the first-round upset, they relive some highs and lows from the season, and laugh at the Penguins one more time. [Islanders Anxiety]
- Both teams will want to set their version of the tone early in the series. Figure lots of Identity Line mythology. [Newsday]
- One X-factor: Whether Mat Barzal and Bo Horvat can recreate the magic they appeared to be establishing in six games before Barzal went out for the rest of the regular season. [Post]
PP1— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) April 16, 2023
- Are the Islanders a “bad matchup” for the Hurricanes? (History decisively declares, “no,” but man, that goalie matchup...) [Athletic]
- One thing that may be a significant factor: Alex Romanov’s absence means the Isles will need Samuel Bolduc to step up. It’s a big ask for the rookie against a high-pressure opponent. [THN]
- Stan says the Isles lack superstars but that’s okay, team concept is their bread and butter. [THN]
- The high-scoring Hurricanes defensemen could be the difference. [News & Observer]
- How the Isles and Hurricanes match up. [Newsday]
For lots more Hurricanes coverage, check out Canes Country, where the goaltending trio is probably the primary source of concern.
For The Island. #Isles pic.twitter.com/e6aZlNpYV9— Isles Territory (@IslesTerritory) April 16, 2023
Last night’s games were...there were no games. The playoffs start tonight, and the Isles and Hurricanes kick off the schedule — not doubt because there is voracious national demand to see the teams from Long Island and North Carolina square off.
Four games are on tap for tonight, beginning with the Isles and Hurricanes at 7:00 EDT, the Panthers in Boston at 7:30, then the Wild in Dallas at 9:30 followed by the Kings in Edmonton at 10:00. In terms of gorging on playoff hockey, the first round really is the best time of year.
- A look at each playoff team’s biggest worry. [Athletic]
- Or, a look at each playoff team’s strengths and weaknesses. [Sportsnet]
- A bunch of storylines for each series, including, essentially: If the Isles can get past the Hurricanes, then we’ll have two rounds of NY/NJ rivalry action. [NHL]
- Breaking News: The Bruins are aware their record regular season does not guarantee playoff success. [NHL]
- Matthew Knies could be a scratch by the Leafs for Game 1, which is only a big deal if you’ve been following Canadian media all year long breathlessly hype the arrival of the NCAA alum who has...3 games of NHL experience. [TSN]
- The Oilers hope their run to the conference final last year has paved the way for further success. [TSN]
- The U.S. women came back to defeat Canada to take gold at the World Championship in Brampton, Ontario. [Sportsnet]