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Islanders Playoff Puck Talk – The Post Mortem report

The New York Islanders took one on the chin last night and couldn’t get up, losing to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference semi-final.  They had plenty of opportunities and even took an early lead in the first period but the Hurricanes played the perfect game plan to beat the Islanders and part of the reason why the Isles were swept.

Game 4 – Friday, May 3rd, 2019 – New York Islanders @ Carolina Hurricanes

Score – 5-2 Hurricanes

Player of the game – Mathew Barzal

Grade – D+

The Islanders, as they were in the final two games in Raleigh, were completely outworked by the ‘Canes.  Games 1 and 2 could be more bad luck than anything, but at the same time the Isles were never able to capitalize on ANY of the chances they were given to score.

They opened up the scoring just two minutes into the first when an early PP presented itself.  Mathew Barzal took a Devon Toews shot and slipped it through the wickets of Curtis McElhinney for a 1-0 lead.  It looked to be the spark that the Isles needed, especially after Barry Trotz put the lines in a blender.  However it was all for naught as just two minutes later the ‘Canes tied the game up on their own PP.  Adam Pelech looked to have shoved the puck in his own net.

The second period was a complete mess and a microcosm of what went wrong for the Islanders in this round.  The Hurricanes capitalized twice on pucks in front of Robin Lehner.  The goal to give them a 2-1 lead was ugly, as all five Islanders were standing around, tired, while Teuvo Teravainen took a cross ice feed from Warren Foegele and put it into a wide open net.  The third goal for the ‘Canes was even uglier as Greg McKegg was left with a puck right in front of Robin Lehner and deposited it into the net.

Justin Williams sealed the deal later in the period with a goal of his own, and the rout was on.  Andrei Svechnikov made it 5-1 late in the third and by the time Brock Nelson scored the second goal for the Islanders, the game was well out of reach.  It was a sad ending to a very good Islander season, but they just didn’t have it in them this series.

Game Notes

  • Robin Lehner was pulled after the Hurricanes’ third goal, relinquishing the net to Thomas Greiss
  • Mathew Barzal was still a force out there despite his team not coming to play
  • Adam Pelech was laboring the whole night and may have been more hurt than anyone realized
  • The Hurricanes stifled every Islander opportunity for all four games.  They played exactly how the Islanders played against the Pittsburgh Penguins

There will be a much longer breakdown of the season and the playoffs as a whole coming soon, but for now we can break down Game 4 and realize that the Islanders never had it in them this round.  They competed hard and even were up a few times but Carolina dominated stretches at a time and never really let the Islanders back into the series.

If a couple of bounces went the other way or if the Islanders were able to score on even one of the many failed chances, we could still be looking at a series.  However, they didn’t and that’s why they were swept.  It was a hard fought series but at the end of the day the Islanders were outclassed by the Carolina Hurricanes in every facet of the game.

Also just one more note;  None of the playoff failures are on Robin Lehner or Thomas Greiss.  They were the backbone of the team all season and without those two (especially Lehner in this series) this could have gotten ugly real fast.

It wasn’t the way Islanders fans wanted it to end, especially with a wide open Stanley Cup Playoff bracket.  However, if anything it’s a good lesson going forward for all the Islanders.  You have to lose before you win, and it’s always darkest before the light.  The Islanders can take those lessons into the off-season, sit on them, and let it fuel them for next season.

There are going to be a lot of changes coming in the off-season.  Some of the familiar faces will be gone and there will be new Islanders to root for next year.  This team was built on defense but they most certainly need some high-end skill to go along with it.  Who will be on the Island next season?  That’s for Lou Lamoriello to decide.

This season was filled with the highest of highs and very few lows.  With zero expectations coming into the season, the Islanders brought their fans on a ride that will never be forgotten.  The ride ended on Friday night but it’s just the beginning of an even bigger journey.

 

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