I think our boys will come out flying against Flyers and Buffalo. I think they were little nervous when they had a chance to clinch. Now that its done they can relax and have some fun and win some hockey games.
Don't get me wrong... hard work and dedication played a HUGE part as to why this team has made the playoffs. But looking at the events of last night, it seems this team was meant to make the playoffs. Kind of like the hockey gods, for once, were shining down on the Islanders. For example...
In the game against Carolina, we should have lost in regulation. Getting a point from that game was a small miracle. Why? The tying goal with a minute left? That's not really even what I'm talking about. It happens. How about Ruutu (sp?) missing a COMPLETELY open net about 3 feet away from the crease? That's a sure goal pretty much 100 times out of 100. That goes in... game over.
But the Jets-Caps game really did if for me. Forgot who the player was on the Jets but he had a wide open net in the first period (from a bit of an angle but still) and a Caps d-man (I think either Erskine or Carlson) dove across and made what looked like a 2 pad stack for the save. That's a goal 99 times out of 100. Just minutes later, a Jets shot deflected off the back of the Caps goalie and was bouncing across the goal line. A Caps d-man (again I think it was Erskine or Carlson) somehow jumped behind the goaltender and swatted it away literally millimeters from crossing the goal line completely. Again... goal 99 times out of 100.
My point... as Isles fans we always complain about never getting any bounces. The bounces were in our favor in abundance last night. Our magic number this morning could EASILY still be at 3... but it isn't. Thank you hockey gods!
Well done and good to all the long suffering Isles fans! 6 years is far too long and you have an exciting team to watch with no expectations or pressure. They have made the playoffs and anything else is gravy, according to the rest of the hocley world...but we all know that the players want to win a round and they will be ready to upset someone.
Congratulations to each and every player on that team. They put themselves in a position to succeed, and for the most part executed. They deserve every bit of the experience; and this experience should propel development.
I'll be the first to admit I was wrong about this team; I saw another bottom-5 finish, probably jaded by years of losing and did not have faith in Capuano/overachievement. I'm still wrapping my head around this run they are in the midst of, they've bent, but haven't broken. Propelled by timely defense, offense, and goaltending.
Didn't they clinch in Carolina 2004? Still have the Newsday headliner, w/ Czerk scoring two goals (I think).
Two games to tune up; just hope they haven't spent all their energy to make it this far, and peter out come playoff time. This could be a good time to experiment with a Boyes-Grabner swap, MM is the lesser of the evil on that line and has shown consistency. JT is trying too much, overextending himself, we all know how much pressure he puts on himself.