New York Islanders
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Even after their best regular season finish since 1983-84, the New York Islanders are pegged as underdogs — and that’s just fine.

Even after finishing with 103 points, the recipients of the William M. Jennings trophy and home-ice advantage, “experts” are still sleeping on the New York Islanders.

From preseason predictions in September, the Islanders were counted out. They were slated to finish in the NHL’s bottom-10 at best, and 17 of 18 writers for NHL.com had them missing the postseason.

Even among fanbases and those tied closely to the team saw too many obstacles for the Islanders to climb yet 82 games later, the Islanders are reformed on all fronts.

Still, far from everyone is sold on the team’s new-found success and that includes the same pundits who didn’t even have them in the fold.

Ten of the 15 writers at NHL.com already picked against them after counting them out of the postseason with a surprising take from the only pundit who picked the Isles to be in the playoffs.

None of this may come as a shock to the team; in fact, it should only add to the fuel they’ve used all season. It would only make sense to pick a sexier pedigree with the playoff-tested and well-proven core in Pittsburgh.

Many are making the same mistakes they did in September and that’s observing the teams on a more individual basis. There’s almost no argument to make on that level, from a player-to-player comparison the Penguins are loaded with far more talent and point-producers.

From a team standpoint, the Islanders are arguably the closest-knit group in the league with their buy-in to the system imposed by their new coaching staff led by the man who is no stranger to the Penguins—Barry Trotz.

When the puck drops for Game 1 on Wednesday evening in Nassau, the New York Islanders will have everything set exactly as they want it to be. Statistical underdogs opening with home ice in a building that has been hyped up since it’s apparent closure in 2015.

New York Islanders

The playoff atmosphere

Game 1, in every sense, will help set the tone of the first round.

Fans are expected up bright and early, just like the early-morning tailgating during the 2015 Washington series. Those who may be tuning in elsewhere in the NY-area or around the world can look forward to full coverage on MSG Networks for almost all days.

Games 1, 2, 4, and both 5 and 7 (if needed) will all be aired on MSG+ with the opening game being the only exception for MSG Network.

MSG Shorts focusing on the fan culture that surrounds the team are set to air after each game spotlighting Isles players and personal life on and off the ice.

Part of MSG’s planned coverage includes UFC Star (and Long Island native) Chris Weidman, Islanders Alumni and live coverage of fan tailgates leading up to the pregame coverage one hour before game-time.

The celebration all culminates to puck drop on Long Island at 7:30 p.m. ET on MSG+.

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