Not long after Saturday’s 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers in Game One of their Stanley Cup Qualifying Round series in Toronto, Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz summed up his team’s mentality.
As per the Islanders’ DNA, the page has already been turned to the next chapter.
“This one is over and we’ll put it in the rear-view mirror and the biggest game that we have is the next game,” said Trotz. “We know that they’re going to be desperate and we need to match that desperation from our side as well.”
The Islanders will take a 1-0 series lead into Game Two, which will not take place until Tuesday. In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, games are generally played every other day but this is not a typical post-season. With all of the Eastern Conference games being played at Scotiabank Arena in the hub city of Toronto, and with multiple games taking place in the arena each day, the schedule is, just like the year 2020 itself, is not normal.
But these are the Islanders under the Lou Lamoriello/Barry Trotz regime so they just focus on the task at hand.
“It doesn’t really matter to us,” said forward Anthony Beauvillier. “We’ll take the two days and turn the page and focus on the next game. It’s all about the next day and the next game. We’ll take the two days and obviously talk about the game and see where we can do better and go from there.”
Having two days off before the next contest could actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the Islanders. One reason, and the Panthers also benefit from this, is that Game Two and Game Three will be played on Tuesday and Wednesday with both games starting at noon so there will be some extra rest before the back to back contests.
For the Islanders, the extra rest is even more important as they wait on the status of defenseman Johnny Boychuck who left Game One on Saturday early in the second period after taking an illegal check to the head from Florida’s Mike Matheson. The Islanders played the rest of the game with just five defensemen and with Boychuck in concussion protocol, it’s possible that a replacement, likely Andy Greene or Noah Dobson, will be needed for Game Two.
With Boychuck’s status up in the air, the Islanders are fortunate to have depth on the blueline.
“I think that’s big for us,” said defenseman Ryan Pulock. “The beauty of it is that we’ve got a lot of depth back there and guys that can step in. Guys played some big minutes back there and some hard minutes so a couple of days here will be good.”
It’s been a hectic week for the Islanders.
They arrived in Toronto on Sunday and then practiced on Monday and Tuesday before Wednesday’s exhibition win over the Rangers. Then there was practice on Thursday and Friday to get ready for the series opener on Saturday. Now the Islanders will have two days to decompress, review what happened in Game One, and prepare for Tuesday’s Game Two.
“We’re going to reassess,” said Trotz. “We’ll take a step back and look at the game a little differently than from the bench and try to dissect and try to have one or two adjustments. There are a couple of things that I know that we can improve upon right now that we can hopefully add to our game.”
The Islanders played their game on Saturday and they pulled out the win despite going through some adversity. Now with some extra rest before Game Two, you can be sure that Barry Trotz and his staff will take these two days to make corrections and be ready for what lies ahead on Tuesday.