After the Islanders’ 1-0 win over the Boston Bruins in the home opener back on January 18th, “Right Back Where We Started From”, a song by Maxine Nightingale released in 1976, was played on the sound system. It took me a few minutes to figure out why the Islanders’ chose that song and I eventually concluded that it couldn’t have been a better choice for a victory song.
First of all, there’s a connection to hockey because the song can be found on the soundtrack to the 1977 movie “Slap Shot”.
Also, it’s basically the theme of this Islanders season.
The Islanders advanced to the Eastern Conference Final last season in the bubble only to lose to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning in six games. With that song choice, the message was clear…the Islanders objective was to get back to the point where they left off and finish the job.
And now, the Islanders are right back in the Stanley Cup Semifinals and will once again face the Lightning starting with game one on Sunday (3pm NBC) for a chance to reach the Stanley Cup Final. There are many times when a sports team makes a deep playoff run but they come up short and then they don’t get back to that point the following season.
But the Islanders are back and while there are many in the hockey world who continue to be non-believers, there was never any doubt from anyone in the Islanders dressing room.
“Coming into this season, we expected to be back here,” said Islanders forward Matt Martin. “It doesn’t always work out that way because there’s a lot of good teams in this league but as much as everyone has made us underdogs and thought maybe last year was a fluky, in our minds we always thought from the beginning that we were going to have another shot at this.”
Martin’s feelings are shared by everyone in the organization, especially at the top.
“Expectations for every team, each and every year, is to be where we are today,” said Islanders President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello. “It’s how you approach it throughout the year. The experience that our players had last year certainly puts that focus just in a little higher direction than it was the year before. I’m not surprised with that expectation and would be very disappointed if that expectation wasn’t there.”
Islanders vs Lightning
Game 1…Sunday June 13th…Islanders at Lightning…3pm NBC
Game 2…Tuesday June 15th…Islanders at Lightning…8pm NBCSN
Game 3…Thursday June 17th…Lightning at Islanders…8pm NBCSN
Game 4…Saturday June 19th…Lightning at Islanders…8pm NBCSN
*Game 5…Monday June 21st…Islanders at Lightning…8pm NBCSN
*Game 6…Wednesday June 23rd…Lightning at Islanders…8pm NBCSN
*Game 7…Friday June 25th…Islanders at Lightning…8pm NBCSN
The task at hand is not an easy one against the defending Stanley Cup Champions. The Lightning finished the regular season in third place in the Central Division. Then, in the playoffs, they disposed of the Florida Panthers in six games and the Carolina Hurricanes in five games to reach the Stanley Cup Semifinals.
One day after the Lightning finished off the Hurricanes, the Islanders completed their six-game win over the Boston Bruins setting up the Islanders/Lightning rematch. The Lightning may have the star power, but the Islanders are no slouches themselves as they lead the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 43 goals scored so this shapes up as a fascinating series…as it was a year ago.
But this time, the Islanders are hoping for a better result.
“This is a familiar situation for both teams,” said Islanders forward Josh Bailey. “It wasn’t that long ago that we found ourselves in this spot. We’re only halfway there. It’s just unfinished business. There’s still a long way to go. We just gotta keep our foot on the gas.”
“We have a really good team,” said Martin. “Whether we get the credit for that or not, we believe that we have a good team and that we’re well coached.”
Last season, the Islanders came up six wins shy of winning the 5th Stanley Cup in franchise history. This season, now at the same point they were at last year and against the same opponent, the Islanders have one objective.
“Our job is to go out there and finish the job,” said Martin. “Our goal is to win a Stanley Cup and anything short of that is going to be disappointing.”
All of Islanders Country would agree with that. They’d like to hear “Right Back Where We Started From”, both on the sound system at the Coliseum and on their music devices for away games, four more times to punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final.