As my son and I made our way onto the Long Island Railroad train after Thursday’s night’s Islanders game, the atmosphere, as you could imagine, was quite jovial. The Islanders set a new franchise record by gaining at least a point in 16 straight games thanks to a 4-3 overtime win over the Penguins at Barclays Center and the fans that filled the train leaving Atlantic Terminal were in a frenzy.
I’m guessing the only thing that could have been better was being in a car leaving Nassau Coliseum and honking “Let’s Go Islanders!” but the fans were thrilled nonetheless.
After we sat down, one Islanders fan yelled out “we want the cup”, a chant that started picking up steam and before you know it, many of the fans on the train were belting it out as well. My son Jared heard this and looked at me as if he was seeking approval to join in and I said go ahead why not? This streak has been fun so go crazy.
Now while the Stanley Cup is not awarded in November and we are in fact a long way from the Islanders potentially clinching a playoff spot or even advancing in the playoffs, the happiness expressed by the fans is a perfect example of where this franchise has come in two years. Islanders fans, the organization, and even many members of the media now believe that this is a franchise on the cusp of some great things.
Going 15-0-1 over a sixteen-game period is no small task and is, in many ways, remarkable. The Islanders have a good team, but what they’ve done on this run has been incredible and they’ve been finding different ways to get the job done each night. Perhaps the most amazing characteristic of this streak has been the return of the “Never Say Die-Landers”.
Down 2-0 to the Blues late in the third period at Nassau Coliseum…no problem. Down 3-0 in the third period to the Flyers in Philadelphia…no problem. Down 4-2 in the third period to the Penguins in Pittsburgh…no problem. Falling behind the Penguins twice on Thursday night and letting a lead slip away in the final minute…again no problem.
The fan base is in a frenzy and when they hear Head Coach Barry Trotz talk about how the team has been able to do this, it makes Islanders Country want to run through a brick wall.
“They come to work, they come to compete every night and they give you their best effort,” said Trotz. “That’s the Islander way. It’s a reflection of the way we play, the people we have and the community we live in.”
That community is fired up.
Excuse me while I get into my car, drive down the Meadowbrook Parkway to Hempstead Turnpike, turn up my radio, and beep my horn because the Islanders are for real. They have done something that is really the only thing a sports franchise can guarantee they can do because you can’t guarantee wins and a championship.
What the Islanders have done is they have given everyone a reason to believe that that can compete for Lord Stanley.
There is the solid and stable ownership team led by Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky. The years and years of arena drama, the move to Brooklyn, and now the bouncing back and forth from Barclays Center to Nassau Coliseum is coming to an end with the Belmont Park Arena now under construction. After painful reigns by the likes of Mike Milbury and Garth Snow and the revolving door of low budget coaching hires, the Islanders now have a Hall of Famer in Lou Lamoriello and a future Hall of Famer in Barry Trotz running the show.
The Islanders are picking up points everywhere…Brooklyn, The Barn, and on the road and the Isles will take their sixteen-game point streak out west for three games starting Saturday in San Jose. Heck, even Captain Anders Lee picked up points on a boxing judge’s scoreboard after that performance Thursday night against the Penguins’ Zach Aston-Reese.
Call it incredible, call it amazing, call it bizzaro world, or call the Islanders’ performance so far this season anything you want. What the Islanders have accomplished with this streak is that it follows up on last year’s 103-point season and first round playoff win and it signifies that this team is for real. This franchise is operating like a franchise that wants to be successful. This fan base is acting like they’ve wanted to act for a long time and that is to scream and yell, pound their chests, get out of their seats and scream “YES YES YES!” and “Let’s Go Islanders!”
Yes, I know it’s only November, but what has been happening over the last couple of years hasn’t happened in quite some time, what has been happening over the last sixteen games has been historic, and what could be happening in the near future and down the road could be mind-blowing.
The Islanders are making everyone beLIeve!