New York Islanders Playoff Run


Patricia Sadowski, Staff Writer

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the start of the NHL playoffs was a bit unusual. 24 teams made the playoffs, with one of them being the New York Islanders. Prior to the pandemic, the New York Islanders went downhill. The team went 4-7 in the month of January, 6-9 in the month of February, and lost the remaining four games in the month of March. The Isles went 0-7 in their final seven games of the 2019-20 season and had no playoff spot. Despite this, the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to be the major boost they needed for their playoff run. 

Arranging plans for the 2019-20 playoffs was definitely a challenge, but the NHL handled it in a way to make both the players and fans happy. On July 29th, the Islanders had an exhibition game against the New York Rangers as a way to “warm up” for the upcoming playoffs, winning that game 2-1. The Isles were arranged to play with the Florida Panthers for the qualifying round. They won for the first two games, taking a 2-0 lead in the series. Lost game three and came right back in game four to win the series 3-1. That third win had the NYI advancing to the first round of the 2019-2020 Summer Playoffs.

 In the first round, they met the Washington Capitals. The Caps came off playing in a Round-Robin Tournament since they were one of the top four teams in the Eastern Conference. Washington is known for being a really good offensive team, which meant that it was going to be a tough first round match up for the Isles. In game one of the Eastern First Round, the Islanders won 4-2 and took the 1-0 series lead. They won the first three games of the first round until they lost 3-2 in game four, making the series 3-1. Two nights later, the Islanders wrapped up the first round with a solid 4-0 win and said hello to the Philadelphia Flyers in Round two.

 The Isles started off the second round with a beautiful 4-0 win. In game two, the Flyers came back to tie the series up at 1. After that, the NYI won two straight games to grasp a 3-1 series lead. However, it wasn’t over for the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers won the next two games to tie the series up and take it to game seven. In a crucial game seven, the New York Islanders dominated the game, beating the Flyers 4-0 and advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in 27 years! They looked to face the Tampa Bay Lightning and their incredible top line guys. 

With a game seven on Saturday and travel day on Sunday, they blew game one of the ECF with an 8-2 loss. Looking to come back in the series from an exhausting game, game two was just as heartbreaking. With nine seconds left in the third period, Kucherov scored for the Tampa Bay Lightning to win the game 2-1. In game three, the Islanders finally got what they were looking for as they won the game 5-3. As New York looks to even things up in the ECF, game four was another upsetting one. Nelson put the Isles up 1-0, but then only 27 seconds later, the Islanders found themselves to be trailing by a goal. New York ended up losing that game 4-1. Approaching game five, the Islanders were seeking a much needed win. It’s a go win or go home situation for the Isles. It took double overtime, but a pass from Anders Lee to Jordan Eberle on a 2 on 1 kept hopes alive in New York. Unfortunately, the season ended up coming to an end in game six, as they lost 2-1 in OT. With their season over, they were the only team from the qualifying round to make it to the Conference Finals. It was a good run by New York, as they constantly proved the doubters wrong. These playoff moments will be cherished forever. There is so much to be proud of from this team. What an incredible playoff run for both the players and the fans cheering on from home.  

If you are an Islanders fan or even a hockey fan in general, you can agree that they pulled off something so incredible in the 2019-20 Stanley Cup Summer Playoffs. Comparing the team before and after the pandemic, it was a completely different experience. With healthy guys on the lineup, great goal tending, and amazing coaching staff, New York was able to advance all the way to the Eastern Conference and take a strong team like Tampa Bay to game six. No fans in the stands was definitely a different type of playoff hockey, but the players appreciated all of the support going to the bubble. What a playoff run for the New York Islanders!