Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Cory Wright of the Islanders' website,
As the Islanders bundled their sticks, packed their bags and cleaned out their lockers this week, many took a moment to pay their respects to the franchise’s home for the last 43 years, Nassau Coliseum.
Players walked down the tunnel to the ice – the Islanders logo still painted at center – and took a look around. The banners still hung proudly, the air full of history, as bittersweet memories of the final game here – a 3-1 Game 6 win – slowly sunk in.
To some it’s just a rink, but to the Islanders – many of whom have known no other team – it’s so much more.
“It’s been home for six years for me,” John Tavares said. “It’s a lot more than just a building and playing games here.”
The Islanders worked and played together here nearly every day for eight months per year for 42 seasons. You can tell it’s been lived in. The low-hanging ceiling tiles outside the locker room have been dented by countless soccer balls, much like a dinged garage door after a summer of ball hockey. There are marks on the Expo Hall floor, from pucks being stickhandled before games. There are layers of paint covering up scratches from equipment bags and carts.
from Mark Hermmann of Newsday,
Hockey has no prescribed ritual to mark the end of an era. It has only the traditional end-of-series handshake line, which didn't do justice to the Islanders' loss Monday night. This one meant the end of the Islanders as a Long Island team. And it was a distant farewell to Nassau Coliseum.
The only responses were sadness, quiet and thanks, with an emphasis on the latter. Thanks to the Coliseum for being such a worthy home for 43 years and thanks to the people who always went there.
"It's hard to believe it's over. You put so much into the season, into the series," John Tavares said after a 2-1 loss to the Capitals in Game 7. Referring to Islanders fans, he added, "We're disappointed for them. I don't think we talked about it a whole lot, but we knew what this season meant, playing at the Coliseum. How they responded to us was absolutely tremendous."
added 8:52am, from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
It will be different now, will have a different flavor when the Battle of New York becomes an inter-borough rivalry. If the Islanders can build off this season that ultimately built unrealized expectations and left unrealized the dream of one more playoff showdown against the Rangers, then the next stage of the rivalry can be as satisfying as the first phase.
And really, remembering the romance of the Coliseum is a fine thing, but the Islanders sure couldn’t have thought it romantic for most of the last 20 years in which their own fans were outnumbered in their old building by Ranger fans, and often by a sizeable margin.
Fans on the Island probably don’t want to hear this as any more than the employees of Sterling Cooper wanted to hear it when it came out of Don Draper’s mouth, but it’s true: “Hold on. It’s not the end. It’s the beginning.”
It’s the beginning of Rangers-Islanders and the Battle of Brooklyn.
Capitals defeated the New York Islanders 2-1 in game 7 and will now play the New York Rangers.
from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,
There’s no telling how tonight’s decisive Game 7 between the Islanders and Capitals will play out, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone that their first-round series got to this point.
There was little to distinguish these Metropolitan Divison rivals, results-wise, during the regular season. Both ended up with 101 points. Both won a combined 40 games in regulation and overtime. Both were strong on the road, picking up 22 victories. They were so close that home ice for this game had to be decided by a count of points gained in head-to-head play, the NHL's third tiebreaker. The Caps earned the edge, 6-5, on the strength of a shootout win over the Isles on Feb. 21.
Maybe that will pay off for the Capitals tonight. Or not.
In fact, losing that game might have been the best thing that could have happened to the Islanders, at least if recent history counts for anything.
Six series went to a seventh game during last spring’s tournament. Five of them were won by the visiting team, though home clubs hold an all-time mark of 91-65.
from Alex Prewitt of The Washington Post,
The Washington Capitals have told themselves there will be another day, and without question this is cemented in their minds. They feel confident there will be another game beyond the winner-take-all, loser-go-home meeting with the New York Islanders on Monday night, the seventh and last in these Eastern Conference quarterfinals. They believe they will watch the next round while playing in it themselves, not sitting on their couches at home, stewing and wondering what could have been.
They have told themselves they will meet again inside this practice facility to scheme and watch video of the New York Rangers, the opponent awaiting whichever club emerges victorious from Verizon Center, and not to conduct exit interviews. They hope they will peel another frame from their advent calendar, the one with 16 squares, the number of wins necessary to capture the Stanley Cup. Deep down, they insisted all this work wouldn’t be for naught, that what they accomplished in Coach Barry Trotz’s first season wouldn’t get overshadowed by another early-round, Game 7 exit.
They convinced themselves of these things because concentrating on anything else would be to acknowledge the alternative.
“The main thing is having no regrets,” forward Joel Ward said. “You don’t want to have any shoulda-woulda-couldas.”
from Arthur Staple of Newsday,
from Chuck Gormley of CSNWashington,
Troy Brouwer, now in his fourth season in Washington, noted that all three of his playoff series have been decided in seven games.
He said he believes that with the arrivals of coach Barry Trotz and defensemen Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen, this year’s Capitals have a better chance of closing the deal in Game 6.
“We have to find a way where we can close teams out,” Brouwer said. “I like the pedigree of our team. I like how we’re embracing the situation right now. We know tomorrow night’s going to be our toughest game in a long time because that elimination game is extremely hard to win because the other team is extremely desperate. We have that same attitude as well, because we know what it’s like to exit the playoffs early and we don’t want to be doing that again this year.”
Orpik said he’s noticed a resilience in the Capitals that has served them well in this series. He pointed to the Islanders’ first goal as an example. Several Capitals thought Islanders captain John Tavares deserved a penalty for covering the puck with his hand in the moments leading up to Josh Bailey’s early goal.
“I think a lot of teams in that situation would have panicked,” Orpik said. “I think we did a really good job staying the course and not letting a missed call rattle us.”
from Mark Herrmann of Newsday,
Now the Islanders are in a uniquely desperate situation, or desperately unique. Not only are they playing for the survival of their season, they have one game to keep Nassau Coliseum alive.
They have one last chance to give themselves more chances, one opportunity to avoid having the lights turned out forever on hockey in the only home they have ever known. If they want to seize on omens, they can look at the fact that they haven't been good at closing things out or shutting them down this postseason.
If they had been better at those skills, they would not find themselves down three games to two against the Capitals, heading into a possible elimination for themselves and their building Saturday. Looking back on it, they put themselves in this position well before the 5-1 loss in Game 5 Thursday night. They were up by two goals twice in Game 2 and let that slip away. They were up two games to one and couldn't build on it. They even jumped ahead 1-0 Thursday night.
from Dan Martin of the New York Post,
An already depleted Islanders defense was dealt another blow in the second period of Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Capitals, when Lubomir Visnovsky had to leave the game after a crushing hit by Washington’s Tom Wilson.
Visnovsky didn’t return and the Islanders weren’t happy about the hit.
“He’s an idiot,” Kyle Okposo said of Wilson, who was hitting hard throughout the game and wound up being penalized twice nearly in succession in the second period. “That guy runs around, he hits reckless. He jumps, leaves his feet. There’s no place for that.”
Coach Jack Capuano wasn’t pleased, either.
“From the bench, from my view, [Wilson] left his feet,” Capuano said.
continued and watch the hit below...
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
Boychuk has been key in neutralizing Ovechkin and the Capitals' top line, containing the five-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner to just one goal in three games. Put plainly, the Islanders would not be up 2-1 in the series without his stellar play.
“You can see he’s played in a lot of playoff games -- his experience, his ability to contribute in all areas of the game and certainly playing a lot against [No.] 8,” Isles captain John Tavares said. “It’s a tough job, and he’s been doing a great job for us.”
Matching up against Ovechkin, who has also played the past two games with dynamic playmaking center Nicklas Backstrom, is a top assignment and a daunting one, but it’s also one Boychuk takes pride in doing.
After all, that’s why he’s here.
“It’s playoffs. You have to shut down the top line on the other team and the top players. If you don’t, you’re going to be going home,” Boychuk said. “And no one wants to go home.”
“We didn’t deserve it. What’d we have, 13 or 15 shots or whatever after two periods? That’s not going to get it done, even though we had the lead. We’ve got to put pucks on net, we’ve got to make their D turn, we’ve got to make their goalie work. You could see when we started doing some good things and played down low we got some offensive zone time, but too little too late.”
-Jack Capuano, head coach of the New York Islanders after a 4-3 loss to the Washington Capitals. More on the game from Stephen Lorenzo of the NY Daily News.
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