After young Alan Quine ended the second longest game in New York Islanders history, Game 6 now turns into an extraordinary opportunity.

By Jeff Clutterbuck

It is time.

New York Islanders fans have waited a calendar year to see if their team was ready to take the next step on their road to Stanley Cup contention.

The memories of the no-show Game 7 performance in Washington D.C. have hung around the necks of the players like an anvil, tempering any enthusiasm this organization developed during the regular season.

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Every winning streak, every stretch of above average player had the caveat of “this doesn’t matter if this team doesn’t win a playoff round.” Even if management and the coaching staff never expressly stated that desire out loud, it was clear from the moment the Capitals defeated the Islanders last year that the 2015-16 season would have a different tenor.

Just squeaking into the post season no longer suffices for both the Islanders as an organization and the fan-base at large. The rebuild is over, the years of misery are in the rear view mirror, and the Islanders have an opportunity to change the perception of them around the league.

When Alan Quine‘s power play blast ended the marathon double OT contest in Sunrise, there was that period of bliss that accompanies such a moment: Had the Islanders lost on Friday night, I don’t think there would have been many fans who would have given them any reasonable chance to claiming victory in this series. It is incredibly hard to come back after such a physically and mentally exhausting effort, but luckily it’s the Panthers who are having to deal with effects of the game rather than New York.

But after the excitement dissipated and the nerves went away, thoughts started to turn towards Sunday night at 7 PM ET. Brooklyn has thus far impressed in it’s first experience of playoff hockey, and I expect the atmosphere to be even more charged for Game 6. The Islanders should expect a crowd ready to blow the roof off the building, but also should understand that years of futility have left mental scars that aren’t so easily erased, even with the amazing endings we have seen recently.

“Prove this time is different.”

The Islanders fan-base right now is a group extremely excited for the prospect of what lies ahead, but is still sitting back with arms crossed asking, “alright, show us what you can do.”

“Prove this time is different.”

The coaching staff and the players have done nothing but throw roses towards the fans at the Barclays, promising that their effort will be rewarded, and the team is ready to show it.

Win, and it’s onto Tampa and past the first round for the first time since David Volek ended a burgeoning dynasty in Pittsburgh.

Lose, and all the questions and negativity that have surrounded the franchise for years will be back in spades.

The Islanders control their own destiny; let’s see what they do with it.

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Jeff Clutterbuck resides just outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but has inherited a passionate fandom for the New York Yankees and New York Islanders from the Long Island-based side of the family. Jeff has been a long time member of the music review site The Daily Vault, but recently decided to experiment with sports writing, and express all of the frustrations and joy of being a New York sports fan!