The New York Islanders made quick work of the Washington Capitals. Here are the three stars of the series with a few honorable mentions.
The New York Islanders are moving on. Barry Trotz exacted revenge against the team that let him go after winning a Stanley Cup and the Isles are playing the waiting game to see who they face in the next round.
After going down 3-0, the Washington Capitals showed signs of life in Game 4. However, the Islanders were the better team and they buried the Caps in Game 5.
Here are the three stars of the series, with a few honorable mentions.
The Captain, Anders Lee, set the tone in this series in the first period of the first game. Washington wasn’t happy with his hit on Nicklas Backstrom and he had to answer the bell against John Carlson and later Tom Wilson for the hit.
How did he respond? With three goals in three games to help the Isles jump out to a commanding 3-0 series lead. Hell of a way for Lee to lead his squad.
Adam Pelech’s return to the lineup can’t be understated. The Isles benefited from the shutdown because it gave Pelech time to recover from an Achilles injury that would have ended his season under normal circumstances. The entire group of defensemen has been stellar, but Pelech is the rock that makes it all work.
The trade for Jean-Gabriel Pageau is turning out to be a stroke of genius from team president Lou Lamoriello. The third-line center is all over the ice, double shifting with the fourth-liners in third periods, killing penalties, and causing a ruckus in five-on-five.
Mathew Barzal was the toughest omission from the three stars. The young stud looked like the best player on the ice at times in this series and he frustrated Washington to no end. His overtime goal in Game 3 was one of the high points of the series.
Josh Bailey is quietly having a hell of a postseason. He led the team with a +/- of seven due to his strong defensive work, but his biggest contributions came on the offensive end. His two goals and four assists came at crucial times in the series when the Isles needed a lift.
Perhaps the biggest goal he scored came off a one-timer on a penalty kill in the first game. That game-winning goal turned this series on its head, but his prettiest play came on an assist to Anthony Beauvillier.
This play was all Josh Bailey, but Beauvillier is so hot right now pic.twitter.com/6vB3dCExf7
— ESNY (@EliteSportsNY) August 21, 2020
Toe-drag city, population Bailey.
Speaking of Beauvillier, what a postseason he’s having, huh? The young skater is turning into a star before our very eyes. Although he wasn’t quite as dominant as he was against the Florida Panthers in the Qualifying Round, he came through when the Isles needed him most.
After dropping a two-goal lead in the Game 4 loss, the Isles were in danger of really letting the Caps back into the series. Nope, not on Beau’s watch. His two goals were the nails in the coffin on Washington’s 2019-20 season.
The second line of Bailey, Beauvillier, and Brock Nelson has been New York’s best line all postseason and Beau is the biggest reason for that. Although he only potted three goals, he hit a few posts and is consistently generating scoring chances.
He’s becoming a guy that teams have to account for at all times.
This wasn’t a case of Semyon Varlamov “standing on his head” but it was pretty damn close. He slammed the door shut with his first shutout of the postseason in Game 5. He allowed a measly eight goals in five games and posted a save percentage of .935.
Let’s be honest, it must be nice to be a goalie behind the suffocating Isles defense, but Varlamov still had to make some difficult saves in this series. Most of the action and praise will go to the skaters in this series, but Varlamov deserves his flowers.
Not many goalies can shut down Washington quite like he did.
It’s onto the next one. If the Philadelphia Flyers can beat the Montreal Canadiens, they’ll face the Isles, but if not, New York will draw the Boston Bruins.