Islanders’ Impressive Season Sends Them to the Playoffs
By ERIC BRETT
The Nassau Coliseum held its last regular season New York Islanders game on April 11th, but not its last game. The Islanders’ impressive regular season was rewarded with a trip to the NHL playoffs. The team looks to bring the Stanley Cup home to the Coliseum one last time.
The New York Islanders so far have had a successful 2014-2015 season. The Islanders have accumulated 101 points and 47 wins over the past six months. The team has been plagued by injuries, poor goaltending and a low winning percentage at home the last couple of seasons. Last off-season was mired in questions about what strategies the Islanders should adopt to improve for the 2014-2015 season. To address the negativity and concerns surrounding his team, general manager Garth Snow acquired a number of new players: Johnny Boychuck, Nick Leddy and Jaroslav Halak. When the home opener approached, the new additions and veterans didn’t disappoint; the Islanders began their winning streak by triumphing over the Carolina Hurricanes with a score of 4-3.
After the All-Star break, a packed February schedule tested the Islanders’ newfound success. The team was able to accrue a four-game winning streak in the middle of the month, followed by a 5-2 win against the Nashville Predators. However, by the end of the month, a hot Islanders team that seemed destined to reach the playoffs began to cool down. The Islanders lost every home game in March with the exception of the final one on March 29th against the Detroit Red Wings. The 5-4 win was a miracle for the Islanders, who had given up two goals in the first two minutes.
While the Islanders’ failing strategies started to take their toll in March, playoffs were nearing. Skepticism about the team making the playoffs grew as the Islanders battled the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second and third spots. By April, the Penguins were having their own struggles. A four-game losing streak had accompanied the Penguins well into the middle of March, and they only recorded one win in the month of April. The Islanders’ huge wins against Buffalo and Pittsburgh combined with a Boston loss to Florida helped secure the Islanders a playoff spot.
Now the Islanders are competing against the Capitals in round one of the playoffs. The shootout loss to Columbus prevented home ice for the Islanders so the team must seek success on the road. I predict that the loss of home ice will prevent the Islanders from advancing to the second round in a 4-2 series loss. Junior Noah Reiss said, “I think the Islanders will advance to the Eastern Conference Final. The team needs to have a good penalty kill to succeed.” On the other hand, junior Tyler Bloch predicts the Rangers will move further on than the Islanders in the playoffs.
The Islanders’ playoff performance exceeded expectations in game one against the Washington Capitals, and they won the game by a score of 4-1 with Brock Nelson scoring two goals. The Washington Capitals had limited scoring opportunities, which was a major reason for the Islanders’ success on Wednesday. The Islanders look to continue their excellent performance in game two tonight.