Islanders Have The Right Mindset Heading Into Game Two Against The Lightning

Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire

What a difference nine months can make.

In the bubble this past September, the Islanders lost to the Lightning 8-2 in game one of the Eastern Conference Final.  Whether you look at the Islanders’ travel situation getting from one bubble in Toronto to the other in Edmonton as well as the scheduling is up to you, but regardless of how you look at it, the Islanders lost and they were playing catchup throughout the series.  On Sunday, the Islanders began the Stanley Cup Semifinals with a 2-1 win over the Lightning in Tampa.

But as good as the Islanders feel about starting this series off on the right foot, they know it’s just one step as they get ready for game two on Tuesday night (8pm NBCSN).

“It was game one,” said Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck.  “We’re just taking it one day at a time.  One game at a time.  (Monday) was a practice day.  (Sunday) was a game day.  (Tuesday) is a game day.  That’s what it is.”

TAMPA, FL – JUNE 13: Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) and New York Islanders right wing Cal Clutterbuck (15) battle for the loose puck during game 1 of NHL Stanley Cup 3rd round Hockey match between the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders on June 13, 2021 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire)

In the game one victory, the Islanders received tremendous goaltending from Semyon Varlamov who made 30 saves and goals from Mat Barzal in the second and Ryan Pulock in the third held up.  The Islanders were able to keep the Lightning off of the scoreboard until Brayden Point scored a power play goal with less than a minute to play in the game.

It was a solid performance by the Islanders creating offensive chances and limiting Tampa Bay’s time and space, but it’s only one game.

“We did a pretty decent job of it,” said Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz.  “They’re going to look for a different level (in game two).  We expect that they will.  We expect ourselves to get to a different level (in game two) as well.”

Islanders vs Lightning (Islanders lead 1-0)

Game 1…Sunday June 13th…Islanders 2 Lightning 1…

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

*If necessary

“There’s going to be adjustments made,” said Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock.  “They’re going to make adjustments and they’re going to come hard in game two so we gotta be prepared for that.”

The Islanders’ confidence has been growing throughout the playoffs.  In the first round, they fell behind the Pittsburgh Penguins two games to one before winning the final three games to advance.  In round two, the Islanders were in the same situation trailing the Boston Bruins two games to one but once again won three in a row to punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Semifinals.

This is a team that has been playoff battle tested over the last three years and the confidence has grown with every shift, every period, every game and ever series. With that confidence and experience also comes the knowledge that the defending Stanley Cup Champion Lightning will come out in game two and throw everything they can at the Islanders.

TAMPA, FL – JUNE 13: New York Islanders right wing Jordan Eberle (7) skates in the second period of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs Semifinals between the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning on June 13, 2021 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)

“If you look at the way the playoffs have gone for us, our game continues to get better as it’s gone along and that’s what you want out of your group,” said Islanders forward Jordan Eberle. We still think there’s pieces that we can continue to build on.  We know that they’re going to come out pushing next game.  It just gets harder and harder so we gotta be ready.”

The Islanders are generally ready for each challenge because they bring the right mindset into every game.  They have a short memory win or lose and they can turn the page towards what lies ahead instead of dwelling on what happened in the game before.  The Islanders enjoy a win or wonder what went wrong after a loss for about ten minutes and then it’s onto the next day and the next game.

Nine wins in thirteen playoff games so far this season would suggest the Islanders approach works.

About the Author

Peter Schwartz

Peter Schwartz is a contributor covering the Islanders for NY Sports Day while also writing about general sports in the New York/New Jersey area. In addition to his column, Peter also hosts his “Schwartz On Sports” podcast as he interviews players, coaches, and other sports personalities. He is also currently a sports anchor for WFAN Radio, CBS Sports Radio, and WCBS 880 radio while also serving as the public address announcer for the New York Cosmos soccer club.

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