Despite the fact that they are crosstown rivals, Devils fans have a few reasons to root for the Islanders in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Every kid who lives in the New York/New Jersey area grows up with a few choices to make — Yankees or Mets, Giants or Jets, Knicks or Nets, and one of three hockey teams. Typically fans of one team don’t root for the other, but there is something different about the Devils and Islanders this year.
Isles and Devils fans don’t always hate each other despite their crosstown rivalry. They usually find common ground in their hatred of the Rangers. Colorful chants about the Rags are a feature at the Prudential Center and Nassau Coliseum alike.
Devils fans are quietly rooting for the Islanders to lift the Stanley Cup this year. Isles president Lou Lamoriello oversaw New Jersey’s incredible run in the 2000s before leaving the Devils for the Maple Leafs in 2015. It was only a quick stop in Canada for Lamoriello, who would take over as Islanders president in 2018.
Since Lamoriello’s arrival, there has been a steady stream of players traveling from Newark to Nassau County. There are four former Devils playing for the Islanders in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. All four were beloved Devils who will always be welcome in New Jersey.
Andy Greene made an impact last season during the Islanders’ run through the NHL bubble. Whether it was a timely goal, solid hit, are gritty defensive play, Greene always tends to find himself in the right place at the right time.
Kyle Palmieri didn’t wait long to make his imprint on the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He opened up the scoring for the Islanders in the first period and would add the game-winning goal later in overtime. All this came after only scoring two goals for the Isles in 17 regular-season games.
Travis Zajac and Cory Schneider are both behind glass in case of emergency. Schneider is backing up Ilya Sorokin while Semyon Varlamov recovers from a lower-body injury. Zajac will likely get an opportunity at some point as head coach Barry Trotz tries to mix and match for the right combos.
In short, there are a few familiar faces for Devils fans to watch. Growing up just north of the New Jersey border, I know plenty of Devils fans and they are all saying the same thing — they want to see these guys win a Cup, even if it is with that team from Nassau County.
So, Islanders fans can leave a little room on the bandwagon for the people from Jersey who are silently pumping their fists whenever Greene shuts down a scoring chance or Palmieri nets a game-winner.