The Stanley Cup Playoffs are not like the BCS polls that used to determine the matchup for college football’s national championship game and the other major bowls. There are no extra style points for impressive wins and you don’t lose points for ugly losses. It’s just about winning or losing and the team that gets to four wins first in a best of seven series that gets to move on to the next round.
That, in a nutshell, is the Islanders’ mentality right now after an 8-0 loss to the Lightning in game five of the Stanley Cup Semifinals in Tampa. The result is the same whether the score was 8-0 or 1-0 because a loss is a loss in the post-season and the Islanders now face elimination as they are down three games to two heading into game six at Nassau Coliseum on Wednesday night.
“We’ll just have to park it,” said Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz. “At the end of the day, we’re going back home. It’s 3-2 and we just gotta focus on earning on earning the right to keep playing. We’re going to have to have our best game. We’re going to have to have our best effort from every player on our team and if we do that, we’ll be back here (in Tampa) for game seven.”
Islanders vs Lightning (Tampa Bay leads 3-2)
Game 1…Sunday June 13th…Islanders 2 Lightning 1…
Game 2…Tuesday June 15th…Lightning 4 Islanders 2…
Game 3…Thursday June 17th…Lightning 2 Islanders 1…
Game 4…Saturday June 19th…Islanders 3 Lightning 2…
Game 5…Monday June 21st…Lightning 8 Islanders 0…
Game 6…Wednesday June 23rd…Lightning at Islanders…8pm NBCSN
*Game 7…Friday June 25th…Islanders at Lightning…8pm NBCSN
It was the worst loss in Islanders playoff history, but the reality is that it’s just a loss. It’s one loss that means the same if they had lost a heartbreaker in overtime.
“We’ll wake up tomorrow down 3-2 headed home with our backs against the wall but we got a chance to win a game at home,” said Islanders forward Kyle Palmieri. That’s all we’re focused on now.”
“We’re just going to be moving forward here,” said Islanders forward Josh Bailey. “Game six will be a huge game for us and we’ll have to make sure we’re ready to go this time.”
Throughout the season, the Islanders have used the 1977 song “Right Back Where We Started From” as their victory song after home games and that has turned out to be the theme of the season to as real as it gets. For the second straight season, the Islanders trail the Lightning three games to two in the NHL’s final four. After losing game six and the series last season in the bubble, the Islanders will now try to flip the script heading home to “The Barn”.
“We’re in this situation for a reason but we’ve gotten this far and we’re just going to regroup and get ready for game six,” said Palmieri.
“This group has played for one another for a long time,” said Islanders forward Brock Nelson. “A high character group so we’re going to leave this one here, learn from it a bit, and come out back at the Coli and play a better game.”
Playing a better game is a tremendous understatement for the Islanders. It had to be a difficult plain ride home to Long Island after an 8-0 loss and we’ll see if it lights a fire before they take the ice for game six on Wednesday.
I mean…the result of game five should light a fire, right?
“If that doesn’t motivate us then I’m not to sure what will,” said Trotz. There’s nothing I can say that will motivate them. We just gotta man up and understand all the things we need to do and this group does. We have to leave our best game out there now. I’ve been with this group a long time. I know the character of this group and we’ll be ready.”
Another raucous crowd of 12,978 will be on hand Wednesday praying that the Islanders will be ready and hoping that game six will not be the last Islanders game ever played at Nassau Coliseum.