The speedy Islanders led by John Tavares, were one unlucky deflection away from winning last nights game six in regulation. Even getting to game six against the stacked Penguins surprised the hockey world, and this team will be a force for years to come.
But they were five minutes away from forcing the Pens into game seven. And if this Paul Martin clapper from the point hadn’t deflected off of Frans Nielsens stick and gone perfectly bar-down, then we’d be seeing one game series tonight.
The Isles have gone from the basement to a legitimate playoff team after showing the entire NHL what they can do this postseason. And their fans on Long Island are just gonna have to cross the bridge over to Brooklyn to cheer on their team at the Barclay’s Centre.
Here are three things that leaped out at me and force fed me formula.
1.) John Tavares held his own against Sidney Crosby in this series.
We all knew Johnny T was good, but what I never knew was how friggin’ strong this guy is. The big matchup in this series was him versus Crosby and he didn’t finish second best in any categories. Crosby did score more points, but Tavares was dominant almost every single shift.
Not only did he have an incredible playoff series, but he was nominated for the Hart Trophy earlier this week. He is running up against Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. And it was only just a few years ago where the thought of anyone other than Ovechkin and Crosby winning the Hart was unbearable. But this kids for real.
Islanders fan believe so too, because in game four when the Isles shelled former first rounder Marc-Andre Fleury for six goals, Tavares was the man who scored the fifth and eventual game winner. It was a pretty one too, as he made Brooks Orpik look like a pylon and went shelf on the Flower.
2.) Every team since 04′ that has drafted first overall is a legit team now, except for the Oilers.
Here’s a list:
Ovechkin has made the Capitals a force year in and year out, Crosby has done the same for the Pens, and that includes a Stanley Cup and Gold at the Olympics.
Erik Johnson never panned out in St. Louis, but they received assets in Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk. Stewart led the team in points, and Shattenkirk in points for a defensemen.
Everyone knows what Patrick Kane has done in Chicago with the help of captain Jonathan Toews.
Stamkos has become that guy that can compete against Ovechkin for the Richard, and even helped St. Louis win an Art Ross at the age of 37.
And then there’s Tavares, his point totals have increased every year that he’s been in the NHL, and coincidentally the Islanders have rocketed up the standings as well.
The Oilers have Nugent-Hopkins, Hall and Yakupov and they should be a force soon, but they’ve still got a lot of work to do.
The Avs won the draft lottery, and will probably take Nate Mackinnon, who will make their top three centres Duchene, Mackinnon and Stastny. Lethal.
3.) The Pens won’t win the Stanley Cup.
I know, it’s a pretty big accusation.
When you think about it, what are they gonna do if they run into a hot goaltender? Nabokov was alright in the series, but he still let in a lot of questionable goals like the one off of Douglas Murray’s stick.
If the Isles had say, Lundqvist of the Rangers or even Holtby from the Capitals this series probably would have gone the other way.
They’ve got Chris Anderson and the pesky Sens in the second round. Anderson would have been a shoe-in for the Vezina had he not gotten hurt earlier in the season. He’s got a 950 save percentage and a 1.8 goals against average. This was against the number two ranked Habs. This goaltending combined with the fire power that the Sens have, which could be bolstered if Spezza is cleared, will be a tough task for the Stanley Cup favourites.
And what if they do make it through? Then they’ve gotta either face Rask, Lundqvist, Holtby or Reimer. All three are better than the two goalies that the Pens have. I feel they could take Reimer and the Leafs, but the Capitals have proved they can play tight defensively, Lundqvist is a Vezina finalist and the Rask and the Bruins are just too powerful and stingy.
I do predict that Anderson will shut down the Pens offence and that the Sens will take it in six. Anyways, everyone loves an underdog right?