Could the Islanders be a big player in the Playoffs this year?

You hear a lot of talk about the Isles being the weakest team in the playoffs this season–the only team who should go down without a fight. But as we near the postseason, it appears more and more likely that the Lightning could be in trouble in the first round this year.

First off, this is the team that has proven time and time again that they can definately win when they need to win. They dominated critical matchups with the Sabres to give themselves some distance in the playoff chase, and despite sliding badly late in the season, they never relinquished their slim lead. Also, their favorable records against the top of the Eastern Conference (particuarly the Lightning) suggests that a playoff run isn’t out of the question.

Despite injuries to Garth Snow, Roman Hamrlik, Jason Blake, and Rick DiPietro (the flu isn’t really an injury, but it still kept him out) the Isles rallied around AHL standout Wade Dubliewicz (probably misspelled) and beat the tough Philadelphia Flyers on the road. Last nights win proves that they can win without the hot play of Rick DiPietro.

Finally, the Bolts seem ripe for an upset this season. They’ve never been treated as a favorite, which is the position they’ll be put in this playoffs. Put them against the Isles, a team they’ve struggled with all year, in a matchup that everybody expects them to win, and they might crack. Also, they haven’t proven that they can score goals if Martin St. Louis isn’t involved. Take him out of the game, and the rest of the team has much more trouble scoring.

In other news:

-It appears likely that the Nashville Predators will become the second team to make the playoffs that didn’t exist last time the Ranger$ got in. They are now sitting in the catbird’s seat in the race for the final seeds in the West after a win at MSG last night.

-The Kings’ goose appears cooked. After going 3-7 in their last 10 games, they’ll need luck in addition to winning hockey in their final 6 games to catch the surging Oilers.

-Is Glen Sather some kind of moron? Despite having an unlimited budget, he’s playing hardball with R.J. Umberger. This isn’t brain surgery, Slats. Give the guy a contract or somebody else will jump on him the first chance they get.

-Last but not least, what’s the best race going down to the wire in the NHL? It may not be the race for the final spots in the Western Conference. It may be the jockeying for position in the East. With Boston, Toronto, and Ottawa separated by 1 point respectively, home ice might be critical for all teams if they want to move on. Particuarly between 4th seed Ottawa and 5th seed Toronto, I’ll pick whoever has home ice to win that series.

40 Responses to Could the Islanders be a big player in the Playoffs this year?

  1. TheCoach says:

    The Isles are the weakest team. They are not in the bunched up top 7 of the Eastern Conference, they haven’t made any significant improvements over the team that got beat out in 5 by Ottawa last year, and if Isles fans are counting on Alexei Yashin to be a factor in the playoffs, they’ll be waiting a long time. He has repeadedly shown, in Ottawa and Long Island, that when he isn’t being paid he does not play. In other words, he is not paid for the playoffs therefore he does not play in the playoffs. Also, Jason Blake will likely miss the first round.

    Moving on to Tampa Bay, they are for real. They may not win the East, but if you expect them to roll over and die in the playoffs you are sadly mistaken. They have 2 very capable goalies, a solid defense core and a terrific group of forwards. If St. Louis gets hurt, they still have Lecavalier, Richards, Modin, Andreychuk, etc to fall back on. They are probably the fastest team in the East.

    Furthermore, the regular season does not matter. Ottawa always used to beat the Leafs during the season only to lose to them in the playoffs.

  2. budsfan28 says:

    I agree with you about the Isles chances of knocking off the Bolts being better than most people think, for most of the reasons you mentioned. I do think Tampa is a little deeper than you think offensively, though. This is not just a one man band offensively as great as St. Louis has been. Another possible upset is Montreal over Philly if those two hook up. The Habs usually play Philly tough and I’ll take Theodore over Burke or Esche right now.

  3. Sands says:

    HAHAHHAHA they have no chance

  4. Beckfan5 says:

    Could the Islanders be a big player in the playoffs?

    Two words: ***** NO!!!

    Dumb Islander fans.

  5. chanman says:


    The Isle arnt even Officialy IN the playoffs, as the sabres are still hot on thier heels with albeit slim chances.

    You talk of putting St. louie OUT of the game.

    Good luck.

    The Isles will go out without even a whimper in 5. They have a good D core, But a mediocre Offence and a good, but rookie goalie. The Tampa (if that is the final matchup, they havent clinched the top spot and again, the isles arnt in) BiG D will crush and throttle the Isles Offence, and Bulin and ghrame are the (arguably) the best duo in the league.

    No sir, say adios to the isles.

    And yes, sather is some kind of moron

  6. Beckfan5 says:

    Yeah funny, the Predators are going to make the playoffs and they didnt exist when the Rangers last made it to the playoffs. What relavence does this have with anything?

    Funny how you forgot to mention that the Predators are going to be the second team to make the playoffs that didnt exist since the Islanders last WON a playoff series.

  7. Kashin says:

    This year’s eastern playoff race is the closest in years. There is no clear best team and the worst team (isles) owns the number 1 team.

    The perfect playoffs:

    1 Tampa 8 Isles= close matchup. Not saying isles will win but could go to 7

    2/3 Philly 6/7 Devils= Nasty divison rival that both teams want to have bragining rights over the other.

    Boston vs. Montreal= oldy but goody! They play each other 6 times a year but Boston is still bitter from 2 years ago from a first round as the number one seed. Will be emotional for Zednik.

    Ottowa vs Toronto= No explenation needed.

    Who does RJ Umberger think he is? I have to go with sather but if you want big money EARN it. You were not a top 5 pick for a reason so you wont get that money. It was good they got him but they dont need to overpay for him.

    Isles magic number is at 4 points. Im rooting for the rangers to win against buffalo so buffallo loses and the rangers leave the bottom 5. I have to admit though I feel like the ranger fans are feeling like how i felt a couple years ago making it like the line sepereated 5th and 6th worst and saying the top team is pittsburgh

  8. Beckfan5 says:

    Apperantly you didnt watch the game tonight. Their “magic number” is five not four.

  9. bpanther83 says:

    The lightning are more deep than u think. St.louis, Lecalalier, Modin, Richards, Kubina, Anderchuck(old but can still score), stillman, Fedotenko, Boyle, Sydor, and a great Goalie in Khabibulin. Where as The Islanders have Yashin, the most dissapointing playoff performer EVER. Their goalies are unproven in the playoffs, though I will say they have GREAT defence. They will need to rely on that to go anywhere.

  10. mattf says:

    i rather have islander’s top four on d than tampa’s..

    unproven? while khabibulin is? GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT U TURD

  11. Kashin says:

    apperantly buffalo failed to get a point after the game was over so it is 4.

  12. do_not_go_gentle says:

    Apparently you can’t even spell “appArEntly” making your I.Q. lower than the Islanders “magic” number which is four.

  13. Amcan says:

    The Isles win win only if the TB goalies don’t do well.

  14. Furlong19 says:

    It would be tough for the isles to upset Tbay. But anything can happen in the playoffs. Personally I wouldn’t bet on either team to go deep in the playoffs. The teams you gotta watch out for are Ottawa/Phille and Jersey. I would include Toronto in the mix but if they do get past the 1st round the’ll be done in the second.

  15. kidhenry1 says:

    That’s true about the Lightning having people to fall back on, but that’s if St. Louis gets injured. As long as he’s healthy, the offense totally runs through him. Bottling him up really reduces scoring chances for Lecavalier.

  16. kidhenry1 says:

    True. I just like to take little jabs at the rangers when I can…

    But don’t write the Isles off because of their 2 first round exits in the last 2 years. They would have won the series with Toronto if not for the Leafs dirty play, and they were totally outmatched against the Sens last year. Most of the NHL was.

  17. kidhenry1 says:

    Everything you say is true. But the Isles have been using Adrian Aucoin to defend St. Louis all season, and judging by their record against the Bolts, it’s been working pretty well.

  18. kidhenry1 says:

    Something that is a serious possibility, because they own ‘Bulin and Grahme hasn’t been that great against them either.

  19. nskerr says:

    If the Isles play Tampa in round 1, I think the Isles take it. Here is why. First, over the last few years, the Isles have done very well against Tampa. Tampa doen’t trap. The Isles have more size than Tampa and have speed. They give the Lightning a lot of matchup problems. Secondly, khabibulin’s GAA is over 4.00 against the Isles. He is in the low 2.00 against everyone else.

    The key to this potential matchup are: DiPietro. If he plays like he has been lately, it will be a good match. He has stayed in the net more and not made as many puck handeling mistakes.

    Isles scoring: The Isles just lot Blake. They will need guys like Yashin, Kvasha, and Hunter to re-emerge. All have struggled lately.

    The Isles need to fix the power play. 4-47 killed them as of late. They lost to Carolina because they only went 1-8. They need to improve this.

    I am not saying they will win, but I think it goes 7. If they beat Tampa, the East will be open because there are no locks. Ottawa or Toronto will be out as could Philly or NJ.

    Don’t count the Isles out.

  20. nocuphere says:

    If Garth Snow sees any action the isles are toast. If he plays I would be writing a letter to Mr. Wang requesting my money back. Coax Billy Smith out of retirement or throw two shin pads and a goalie stick in the net.

    The isles are built for the playoffs, but they’ll have to ride Dipietro for any chance at a long run.

  21. Beckfan5 says:

    Well apparently the Devils werent.

  22. Beckfan5 says:

    Funny how only you and Milbury think that their built for the playoffs. I guess that explains why he didnt get anything more than Karpotsev and Bates at the deadline.

    But their stll struggling to get in.

  23. kidhenry1 says:

    Yeah, but then again the Devils won the Stanley Cup, didn’t they? That puts the Islanders in the same company as…

    Everybody in the NHL except the Devils. And the Senators (obviously.)

  24. kidhenry1 says:

    First of all, Bates has been on the team for 3 years…

    Second of all, they are built for the playoffs. They have a trap defense, which seems to do wonders in the playoffs (just ask the Devils) and athletic players who won’t wear down (like Toronto will, for example.) Finally, who you get at the deadline has nothing to do with it. It’s about who’s on the team.

  25. nyi37kes says:

    They will make the playoffs…but as a huge Islander fan i dont know how far they can go without Blake and possibly Bates

  26. leafs_man says:

    The Islanders still gotta chance

  27. nocuphere says:

    The isles are a funny team. I think alot of their confidence was blown away at certain times of the season (6 losses to the Rangers doesn’t help), but they seem to play their best hockey against teams 500 or better.

    I don’t think they can win a cup this year, but that isn’t to say they won’t be a huge pain in the ass for the team they meet on the first round. They could easily upset T-Bay.

    Baters has been there for a while, but you’d think he was hurt all year based on his poor numbers this year, but as a leaf fan I remember the little bastard well from 2 years ago. He played well that playoff year, and scored some big goals.

    If Dipietro can get a win on the road early he could be very troublesome.

  28. hockeyhead6868 says:

    It doesn’t matter what they have done to the bolts this year. Youu can just as quickly turrn around and say they were swept year long by the lowly NY Rangers. The Rangers were able to beat them when they had passion in the head to head matchups. It’s going tto be the same way in the playoffs the Lightning may not win the cup this year but I assure you they willl not come in as a drizzle.

  29. hockeyhead6868 says:

    The Islanders fans have once again proven what mullets they are. Anyone has got to be kidding themselves if they think this Islander team who has been having trouble fending off the 9th place Sabers. A team who lost to the 6th place devils today. A team with a goalie they shouldn’t even have a.k.a. DiPietro over Luongo. They might of stood a chance if crazy Mike didnt trade away all the players so quickly. Im predicting an early first round exit for thee Islanders. Dont forget this is not Tampa’s first year in the playoffs they have some experience now and they ar gonna rock whomever they play. So look, I understand you got to love your team and hope the best for them, but as a hockey fan you have to love Hockey first and call the game how it is. Noe of this crap about the Islanders rolling through the playoffs unscathed when their leading scorer is Jason Blake. Geeez Messier made mince meat out off him with a quick flick of the wrist. I’ve have seen Blake get away with alot off crap wiitth all his antagonist antics butt there is a big difference in the playoffs teams will mess you up for that crap. The Islanders and Islander fans better get their heads on straight, and god bless ice hockey.

  30. Kashin says:

    Dipietro is the number 1 if you have watched the isles since january. snow is the 2 and maybe now the 3. The reason why he lost 2 in a row is because of poor defensive effort and lack of penalty calls.

  31. Beckfan5 says:

    Sorry I meant Webb. Same thing. One little shit that cant score and takes bad penalties and another little shit that cant score but can kill a penalty.

  32. Beckfan5 says:

    Theyre built for the playoffs? How? There are three games left and they cant shake Buffalo let alone clinch the last spot.

    Yeah, thats a playoff team to me. And its not like the have 95 points or something.

  33. Rizzle says:

    I concur!

  34. nocuphere says:

    haha I figured thats who you meant. Yeah Webb can’t play hockey, he’s just gross. Horrible.

  35. nocuphere says:

    Yeah thats what I said, my point I guess was Snow should be like 5th on the depth chart behind Billy Smith.

  36. GretzNYR99 says:

    With my Rangers bias aside, the Islanders do not have a chance in the playoffs.

    1. No playoff performers.

    2. Lack of scoring from big guns like Yashin, Parrish, Peca, etc…

    3. Blake out for first round.

    4. Lack of experience in net, and in general.

    5. Bad leadership, Peca hasn’t been the same since the Tucker incidient.

    6. Bad coaching, Stirling is a mediocre NHL coach at best, I don’t know what Lamiorello saw in him at B.U., but it’s defenitely not the same Steve Stirling.

    Tampa has goaltenders that can actually win a playoff series in net in the Bulin Wall and Johnny Grahame. They have 4 players on their team with over 60 points, one of them being Martin St. Louis, a candidate for the Hart and Art Ross trophies. They have a solid defense with the likes of Pavel Kubina, Darryl Sydor, Cory Sarich, Stan Neckar, Dan Boyle, Jassen Cullimore and Nolan Pratt. They’ve allowed only 182 goals, 4th least in the East, and scored 236 times, 2nd in the East only to Ottawa. I think Tampa can go very far, and Sydor is one of the last few pieces they were missing. Stillman is a much better all around player than Prospal will ever be, and is showing why with a big 70+ point season. He wins key faceoffs, plays well on both ends of the puck, and is useful on the pk unlike Prospal. If it was the Isles vs Tampa last year, I’d say the Isles had a better shot at winning. I do happen to agree with the assessment that the Isles best chance of moving onto the 2nd round is going through Tampa, but they’re not going to win. They just don’t have what it takes to beat a team like Tampa. Yes, I do think the Isles could outlast Toronto in a 7-gamer, but who’s going to put up the numbers, and where’s their leadership? Where’s their goaltending? Toronto has these essentials, that’s why they’d win. Oh, and one more thing. Did you Isles fans happen to forget that Leetch is a Leaf? We all know what Brian Leetch does to the Islanders. 😉

    As for Sather, I think he’s a moron, but he’s smart in playing hardball with Umberger. I don’t think Umberger deserves that much, and he hasn’t played a game in the NHL yet. So what exactly has he proven to deserve over a mill a year? I think that Sather could also use that 46th overall 2nd rounder to stock up in a trade to get higher up in the draft if the Rags don’t make the bottom 5. Who knows, only time will tell.

  37. kidhenry1 says:

    To be fair, Bates did have 30 goals in 2 healthy seasons with the Isles…

  38. kidhenry1 says:

    They don’t have a realistic shot at the cup. I never said that. All I said was that they have a great opprotunity to upset the Lightning in the first round, assuming that that is the matchup. And if you look at the season series, then it does look like they have a legitimate chance. Whether Milbury was stupid or not, DiPietro is still playing great recently. There was no “crap about the Islanders rolling through the playoffs unscathed.”

  39. kidhenry1 says:

    You bring up some good points. Tampa is a helluva team–it’s not by accident that they’re the top seed in the East. They have two good goaltenders, but Khabibulin has always struggled against the Islanders, and John Grahme hasn’t fared a ton better. They have a solid defense, but the Islanders probably have a better one. I wouldn’t want to meet Tampa unless I was the Islanders–the matchups are all in their favor.

    Plus, you have to remember that they’d be in the thick of it with everybody else if they had been able to beat the ranger$ this season.

  40. GretzNYR99 says:

    That’s another thing…

    I don’t mean to be a prick when I say this, but if the Rangers man-handled the Isles, then what are the other teams going to do to them? I know New Jersey’s had troubles with the Isles, and Philly’s done ok against them, but remember, this is the playoffs, not the regular season. It’s a whole different ball-game, as they say it. Their best chance is beating Tampa, but beyond that, the Islanders aren’t deep enough up front, and don’t have enough experience to go far in the playoffs.

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