When you look at what the Islanders over the last three years in the Lou Lamoriello/Barry Trotz era, they’ve certainly developed a very important ability…they generally are able to bounce when they face some adversity. They are now in a position where they have to do it again as they trail the Boston Bruins two games to one heading into game four of their second round series on Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum (715pm NBC).
It’s been a tough series to this point and now the Islanders are faced with the same situation that they faced in the opening round against the Penguins.
“Both teams are playing hard,” said Islanders forward Mat Barzal who scored the only goal in the Islanders’ 2-1 overtime loss in game three. “It’s tough for about ten minutes. It’s the playoffs so you turn the page. We’re excited. We’ve been in this situation before against (Pittsburgh). We’re just going to grind.”
In the opening round, the Islanders dropped game three at home to the Penguins but then reeled off three straight wins to capture the series and move on. They grabbled some momentum and temporarily seized home-ice advantage with a 4-3 overtime win in game two up in Boston. But now the pendulum has swung back towards the Bruins after the Islanders failed to capitalize on some scoring chances in game three, especially in overtime.
Islanders vs Bruins (Boston leads 2-1)
Game 1…Saturday May 29th…Bruins 5 Islanders 2…
Game 2…Monday May 31st…Islanders 4 Bruins 3 (OT)…
Game 3…Thursday June 3rd…Bruins 2 Islanders 1 (OT)…
Game 4…Saturday June 5th…Bruins at Islanders…715pm NBC
Game 5…Monday June 7th…Islanders at Bruins…630pm NBCSN
*Game 6…Wednesday June 9th…Bruins at Islanders…TBD
*Game 7…Friday June 11th…Islanders at Bruins…TBD
“These are two teams that are…let’s just say what it is…that we’re fairly evenly matched,” said Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz. “We’re playing nose-to-nose blue collar hockey and it’s not going to be easy. The hard way is going to be the only way in this series.”
“We’re in a series here,” said Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock. “We have a big game on Saturday. We’re going to regroup here and get ready for that.”
In last season’s playoffs, the Islanders faced adversity in the second round when they led the Philadelphia Flyers three games to one but then lost games five and six in overtime before bouncing back to win game seven. In the Eastern Conference Final, the Islanders were blown out in game one and then lost game two on a goal in the final seconds of regulation. They came back to win game three and then won a game five in overtime to extend the series.
And then in this year’s playoffs, the Islanders have shown the ability to shake off some disappointment and come back with better results. When it comes to recovering from adversity, the Islanders have been there and done that on multiple occasions.
“We just gotta bounce back,” said Islanders forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau. “I’m not too worried with the character that is there is in this room. I’m very positive and I’m very excited for the next game at home. I think we’re going to bounce back and the know the guys are hungry for a win.”
“There’s no panic,” said Trotz. “We were in the same situation before. We look forward. We don’t look back. We’ll try to correct a couple of things, reset and go at it We’ll just need our best effort from everybody again.”
And that includes the sellout crowd of 12,000 that rocked “The Barn” for game three but didn’t get a chance to explode as often as they would have liked. They’ll now reload, just like they did between games three and four against the Penguins, and hope they get to roar a little bit more and belt out some more “YES YES YES” chants. The Islanders will need a better start to help make that happen and they also need to recapture the power play magic that they had in game two.
Based on what we’ve seen in the first three games, this figures to be a series that could go the distance with lots of twists and turns.