Four Questions To Answer About The Islanders Second Round

For the first time since the 2015-16 season and for just the third time in the last 26 years, the Islanders have made it to the Second-Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

And if you think that the hard part is done, think again. Things will only get tougher from here on out.

Thankfully, the Isles are well rested as they prepare to host Game 1 against the Hurricanes on Friday night April 26, 2019.

However, while the Islanders were resting, the ‘Canes were fighting tooth-and-nail to get past the now former-defending Cup champion, Washington Capitals. And all it took to end the Caps’ reign was two two-goal comebacks, plus the third-longest double overtime game in NHL post-season history.

So, what questions will the Islanders face as Round Two gets underway?

1) RUST: There is a fine line between rest and too much rest in the NHL. When the Islanders finally take the ice Friday night, they will do so having last played 10 days ago. And in the topsy-turvy world known as the NHL, that is far too long. Yes the team has practiced. And yes it has allowed several players to heal from nagging injuries. But it has also allowed the team’s sharpness to dull. You might say that the near daily practices staved off the rust. But practices don’t replicate games and therefore it is reasonable to expect there to be some sluggish play at the start of the series.

Besides, it’s not like the Isles are complaining. They got their first objective done, with the minimal amount of games possible. It’s a trade-off they’ll gladly take.

2) INJURIES: While most of the Isles’ players were able to recuperate during their extended break, one player had no such luck. Veteran defenseman, Johnny Boychuk suffered a leg injury during the Isles’ Game 4 victory over Pittsburgh; a stroke of bad luck that will keep him out of action for roughly four weeks. Luckily, the rest of the defense is healthy and productive, meaning that they should be able to survive Boychuk’s absence.

3) GOALTENDING: Robin Lehner was nothing short of fantastic during the Isles’ first-round sweep of the Penguins. But how long can he keep this up? Yes, he is a Vezina Finalist this season. But he had a fairly even playing time split with Thomas Greiss. Now that the calendar is preparing to flip from April to May, that timeshare has gone out the window. Will Lehner be able to maintain his otherworldly pace? Or will Greiss be called upon to fill in for the Boy Wonder?

4) JORDAN EBERLE: The Regina, Saskatchewan native was H-O-T, HOT during the first-round; recording six points (4-G, 2-A) in four games. But he did so while carrying a shooting percentage of 26.7%, more than double his career-average. They say the best players raise their games when the lights are brightest. Can Eberle continue to be the “straw that stirs the drink” on a team that also has such talented players as: Mathew Barzal, Josh Bailey and Anders Lee?

If each of these questions get answered in a positive way, then the Islanders could be looking at a very special run. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Game 1 is fast approaching and Carolina has shown it’s not willing to just roll over and play dead.

My prediction: Isles in 7.

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