The New York Islanders are one game away from the Eastern Conference Finals, but they aren’t out of the woods yet.
For the third consecutive postseason series, the New York Islanders whiffed on their first chance to close it out. Up 2-0 on the Florida Panthers, they dropped Game 3. Up 3-0 on the Washington Capitals, they dropped Game 4. Up 3-1 on the Philadelphia Flyers, they dropped Game 5.
The good news for Isles fans is that they finished the job in the next game against the Panthers and Capitals, but the Flyers are a different animal. Winning that fourth game (or third in the case of the Qualifying Round) in a series is always the toughest. Any NHL team that makes it this far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is going to respond when their backs are against the wall.
It took 55-plus minutes for the Islanders to wake up in Game 5. Down 3-1 with the Flyers outskating them on every inch of the ice, goals by Brock Nelson and Derick Brassard quickly changed the narrative.
However, overtime was back to Philly dominance and the Isles were sent packing. It was the second time this series the Islanders staged a late comeback only for the Flyers to hold on in overtime.
That never-say-die attitude is encouraging, but the rest of Games 2 and 5 were not.
Philly has yet to really hit its stride since the playoffs began. The top-liners are struggling to produce, but Claude Giroux broke through with a goal in Game 5. If Giroux and the other big names find their scoring touch, the Isles could be in the danger zone. It also didn’t help that Semyon Varlamov gave up a couple of cheapies to help Philly out.
Add in the fact that Carter Hart is capable of standing on his head at any moment and it’s clear that the Islanders should be feeling some pressure right now.
Hold Your Breath For Mathew Barzal
Mathew Barzal had to leave Game 5 early after Giroux caught him with a stick in the eye. He wasn’t able to return for overtime and the Isles had no juice in the extra period. If the Isles lose Barzal, they might be cooked.
— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@TheReplayGuy) September 2, 2020
Barzal is the straw that stirs the drink for the Islanders and they need him on the ice in the worst possible way. His ability to skate with the puck and open up space for his teammates is what really makes that first line tick. Without him, head coach Barry Trotz will have some tough decisions to make.
Trotz did not have an update after the game, but we expect to hear something on Wednesday. More to come on this developing story.