The playoff clincher came in a fashion that did the heart good. The NY Islanders beat a team they couldn’t seem to beat all season, taking one from the Capitals in overtime, and sealing up at LEAST a Wild Card spot to this coming playoffs. Of course, this sets off a debate with some fans on who they would like to face in round 1.
There is a problem with this debate. You can’t go in fearing one of the teams via match-ups. No team nor player who loves and breathes NHL competition buys one ounce of this fan or media contemplation one bit.
Most of all, if you have been a critic of the NY Islanders saying that there is “no accountability” or “bar is too low” and yet STILL debating on who they should face in the upcoming playoffs… you need to sit down and have a little introspection on the hypocrisy here.
Bottomline: If your goal is to win a cup … you must be able and ready to beat anyone. ANYONE.
If not, your just one of 29 losers.
End of discussion.
It is very likely that the Islanders might face off versus one of the hottest 2nd half teams in the NHL – the Pittsburgh Penguins, who made the Isles look silly last Saturday.
Before we look at any match-ups or such… we should also lay down some reality on the Isles season as we all watched from the peanut gallery…
The Islanders this season really rendered fans and social media, who hung on over-analysis game by game, almost completely irrelevant. The eye-test has shown far too often that using it for pure evaluation is overrated. We all clutched on that roller coaster, and despite some anxious moments, the team pulled out of the March slump with some home wins. They will likely be in the 100pt range once again, despite all the drama they put us through.
Yes, we have seen a Tale of Two Teams, this season. However, as this season shows in the 10 game pivots, and ultimately, when the dust settles, the better team does show-up just enough. They will match or exceed last year. That is a match for two seasons in a row… and a step to cite. Do they need to get better? Most assuredly. We will save that for a future team autopsy once the season for the Isles are truly over.
So can the Islanders beat anyone in these playoffs? Yes.
Let’s break it down.
PLAYOFFS is/are your best players must be better than their best player(s); your goalie being better than theirs. Plus, if so, can your support players equal theirs?
And you need some puck luck (aka: PDO). PERIOD.
That is the playoffs, despite what others will try to make it into. Very simple.
And… in that simplicity, we have seen these NY Islanders able to beat anyone, and lose to anyone.
Don’t get me wrong. The Islanders have a huge weak-spot. It is the one that many fans tried to ply expertise in assuming that Thomas Greiss, who has been a fabulous and capable 1b goalie and backup to Halak, is somehow a number one goaltender.
The number drop in his use VS his save percentage in ALL types of shots has only made the fact he should remain a 1b that much clearer.
In fact, let’s look at the numbers instead of the faulty and flawed “eye-test”….
Thomas Greiss, Halak and Berube before March 8th:
Now let us look at Greiss and Berube after March 8th, when Halak was out of the picture.
There lies the truth. All in all, EVERY stat dropped in all the main Save% scenarios: Low Danger, Medium Danger, and especially High Danger (where a goaltender can steal a game). Part of that is the grind of the season, and more of it us due to overuse of a 1b goaltender without the 1a mainstay like Halak.
Greiss is shown capable, but human in the starter use. Period. Nothing against the guy. Just diffuses the hype and overrating that goes on from blogs, media, and fans when it comes down to it in a 10 game microscope of being THE GUY. We will see if he can raise his level come this first round, when we NEED his 1st half play to steal games… possibly versus the hottest offense in the NHL.
YES: Injuries are piling up. Welcome to NHL hockey and the 82 game schedule.
But the Islanders are here to win and take someone out. That is their expectation, and no amount of injuries will ignore this fact.
We will now see how they close this out, and who they play next… without silliness over trying to face someone else by blowing a game.
Let the chips fall where they may.