Edits incoming because I swear Newsday waited until I posted this to release this article: After all the silence, it appears that GM Lou Lamoriello will be back in the fold next season. Andrew Gross reports that he will probably get a three-year contract extension. That also means that Lane Lambert will return, more than likely.
Original post below:
It’s official: The long-time rivals are all done this year. The New York Islanders and especially their fans can breathe a little easier for the final month of the playoffs, something we have not been able to do the last few years given which teams had been making deep runs and, in particular, had made the Stanley Cup Final out of the Eastern Conference the last three seasons.
It was a beautiful thing to see both the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins miss the playoffs entirely.
The New York Rangers were eliminated in a no-show Game 7 in the first round by the New Jersey Devils.
The Tampa Bay Lightning were somehow knocked out by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round, although they mostly outplayed the Leafs—foreshadowing, perhaps.
And now, the Leafs have been embarrassed by the eighth-seeded Florida Panthers in a true gentlemen’s sweep, falling behind 3-0 in the series despite having home-ice advantage and then winning Game 4 on the road so that they could do the handshake line at home in front of their miserable fans, who saw only one win in six playoff games in Toronto. The beauty of it is that carnage was predicted if the Leafs didn’t get out of the first round this year. Change was needed, everyone agreed. Well, they did. It was time to start drafting contract extensions for the front office and the bench. Nothing was going to change that!
Until they lost both Games 1 and 2 at home and then, in what was basically a do-or-die Game 3, they barely got off the plane. Incredible. Chef’s kiss. My guess is they wipe out the entire front office and coaching staff and start fresh. I also boldly predict that they ship out at least one of the so-called “Core Four.”
The final rival remaining is a newer one in the Carolina Hurricanes, although I’m not sure if all Islanders fans despise them as much as I do after the playoffs this year. My hatred began building with the sweep in 2019, but it was more demoralizing than anything. This year’s series was a battle that they narrowly won. They’re facing the Panthers in the Eastern Conference Final, so hopefully, the Panthers can continue the magical run they’re on.
- All that Leaf carnage has led to a lot of speculation, mostly among fans, that Kyle Dubas may be interested in coming to the Islanders as GM working under Lou Lamoriello as President. They still have a strong relationship from their time together in Toronto. But if Dubas is out in Toronto, my guess is he goes to Pittsburgh. [Eyes on Isles]
- UPDATE: However, as noted in the edit above, it does not appear that Lou nor Lane will be going anywhere. [Newsday]
- Seven stats suggest Ilya Sorokin should be slated to take home the Vézina, so says Stan Fischler. However, it is unlikely that he will. [THN]
- It has still been silent on the Islanders’ end—perhaps they are waiting to see what happens in Toronto—but Chris Lamoriello is still listed as GM of the Bridgeport Islanders, and the B-Isles signed three players, two Isles’ draft picks out of college and a free agent out of Canadian juniors. Reading the tea leaves. [B-Isles]
- Two Mikes, Milbury and Peca, say that the Rangers shouldn’t be so disappointed with Peter Laviolette if that’s the route they go. But hey, imagine a return to Long Island for someone dismissed far too soon? [NY Post]
- Tomorrow is Mother’s Day (don’t expect a new Bits post, by the way), so Sparky surprised Long Island hockey moms with tickets and flowers. I’m sure the moms were thrilled to see a blue and orange dragon. [Islanders]
- As noted above, the Panthers knocked off the Leafs in Game 5 on the road to win the series. The Cats went up 2-0 in the first. Toronto scored twice in the second, but the second goal was controversially waived off. They got the tying goal anyway in the final five minutes of the third period. But Nick Cousins delivered the dagger late in the first overtime for a 3-2 final. [NHL]
NICK COUSINS CALLED GAME!! #StanleyCup— NHL (@NHL) May 13, 2023
Nick Cousins (@Cous27) sends the @FlaPanthers to the Conference Finals with his overtime winner!! pic.twitter.com/kcozZIcGmj
- That sets up Hurricanes vs. Panthers in the Eastern Conference Final, a good ol’ Southeast Division battle. Florida hasn’t been this deep in the postseason since their miracle journey to the Stanley Cup Final in 1996, their third year of existence. And they’re on another Cinderella run this time. [NHL] This also means that there won’t be more than one game per night for the rest of the postseason, which will make my girlfriend happy.
- The Vegas Golden Knights hosted the Edmonton Oilers for a back-and-forth bruising Game 5. Vegas gave up three power-play goals, but they held on for a 4-3 win. They can advance with a Game 6 victory back in Edmonton Sunday. [NHL]
- The Hart Trophy finalists have been announced. David Pastrnak and Matthew Tkachuk will duke it out for second place because Connor McDavid has this thing wrapped up. [NHL]
- As noted yesterday, the report out of Ottawa is that Ryan Reynolds’ group won’t be bidding on the Senators because the Sens wouldn’t give them an exclusive window to bid, since that would probably violate some fiduciary duty. However, it is curious that they would announce that before bids are even due, so... [The Athletic]