That is the best way these Islanders have performed enterprise all season underneath Lou Lamoriello, so there was not even a shadow of pomp and circumstance surrounding their 4-1 win in Sport Three of their first-round playoff collection that put them up within the best-of-seven contest, 3-0. Perhaps they received’t win Sport Four right here Tuesday night time, however the odds of them shedding the collection at the moment are minuscule — small solely as a result of Pittsburgh appears like a defeated workforce. Or, extra appropriately, the Islanders have sucked all of the life out of Sidney Crosby & Co.
Now, it’s time to cease ready for the opposite shoe to fall. Now, it’s time to cease treating the Islanders like a shock and begin treating them like what they’re — a terrific workforce.
“We received 103 factors within the standings,” stated goalie Robin Lehner, who has been on the forefront of this franchise turnaround along with his personal exceptional private turnaround. “It could actually’t be a shock. This workforce was no fluke this yr. Everybody appears and compares gamers and all that stuff. I take a look at our roster and see numerous actually good gamers. I see a extremely good group and nice teaching.”
The organizational turnaround has been way more dramatic than the breathtaking Sport 1 win, or the buttoned-up Sport 2 victory, turning again the clock contained in the Coliseum. Now the Islanders may be performed at that great and antiquated constructing on Hempstead Turnpike, with residence video games for the second spherical and past set for Barclays Middle.
Switching properties appeared like such a footnote early on, as a result of there have been few who gave the Islanders the sting in opposition to the Penguins, myself included. However the Islanders don’t care about what different folks suppose. They’ve been dwelling on this bubble, constructed by Lamoriello and coach Barry Trotz in order that they solely concentrate on what they will management.
What they’ve managed on this collection is nearly every thing. Most impressively, that has included their feelings. Josh Bailey scored the time beyond regulation winner in Sport 1 after what might have been heartbreak from him hitting the publish within the closing seconds of regulation. All through Sport 2, they hit the Penguins from each angle and at each flip, however they by no means crossed the road of being undisciplined.
Then they hardly flinched when the Penguins scored first at residence on Sunday, which was reasonably tepid in comparison with years previous — an absolute library in comparison with the Coliseum. The Isles wanted simply 90 seconds to attain twice and take a lead they wouldn’t give up. Issues occur, feelings run excessive, and the Islanders simply go about their enterprise.
“There isn’t a expectation. So the prediction, wanting forward, we discover that to be counterintuitive and counterproductive,” stated alternate captain Cal Clutterbuck. “We’re simply making an attempt to take a day, a shift, a recreation at a time. That’s actually it. There isn’t a wanting forward.”
That angle is such a testomony to the surroundings — the “tradition,” to make use of the overused sports activities vocabulary — that has been established by Lamoriello. The concept that everybody has to have a neat haircut and be clean-shaven (throughout the common season, no less than) isn’t in regards to the aesthetic, however about self-discipline. For a franchise that was run like a buddies membership with a wealthy uncle often pulling the purse strings for 12 years, there may be now rampant professionalism.
Off the ice, that’s handed down by Lamoriello. On the ice, that’s dictated by Trotz, who’s reinforcing to everybody across the league why he must be the one along with his title on the Jack Adams trophy in June. Who might think about that these Islanders, primarily the identical personnel that was the worst defensive workforce within the league final season, would completely shut down Crosby within the first three video games? The folks of this venerable blue-collar city are going to begin wanting on milk cartons for his or her beloved No. 87.
However you suppose the Islanders are patting themselves on the again for that? At this level, the reply must be apparent. Identical to it’s develop into apparent that they’re the higher workforce on this collection.
“I see numerous coronary heart,” Lehner stated, “so it shouldn’t be a shock.”
No, it’s not a shock. Not anymore.