The New York Islanders’ 6-2 victory over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night allowed them to move on to the Stanley Cup Semifinals. With a 4-2 series victory, the Islanders square off against the Bruins for the second straight postseason. Here are four takeaways from the Islanders and Bruins’ series.
1. Pulling Tuuka Rask in Game 5 Proved to be a Bad Move for Boston
In Game 5, the Bruins nearly pulled off an incredible third period comeback. Down 5-2 in the third period, they came up one goal short of completing the comeback. After conceding three goals in the second period, the Bruins elected to bench Tuuka Rask for the third period.
His backup, Jeremy Swayman, saw only three shots in the third period. Swayman only managed to stop two of the shots with the goal being the difference in the end.
There’s no denying that Tuuka Rask is an elite goaltender. He came up just short of an immaculate run in the 2019 playoffs but came up just short in game seven of the finals. In hindsight, benching Rask seems like a dumb move after the result of game six. If Boston would have dominated game six with a rested Rask, it would be a different story.
Boston’s efforts in the third period of game five were just short of incredible. Had Rask been in net, there is a good chance Boston ties that game in the third period and maybe the series goes a completely different way.
2. This New York Islanders’ Team is Fun to Watch
A lot of props to Barry Trotz, but prior to his tenure, the Islanders were a pretty boring team to watch. So long are the days when the Islanders would try and out-defend their opponents for 60 minutes in 2-1 games.
In 12 playoff games so far, the Islanders are averaging over three goals per game. 14 different players have scored goals so far this postseason for the Islanders.
The Islanders have four solid lines of players. With Jean-Gabriel Pageau leading the way with 13 points as a third line center and Brock Nelson leading the team with six goals on the second line, balance is the name of the game. Playmakers range all over their lineup so they’re able to score at any time no matter who’s on the ice.
3. Boston Needs to Upgrade their Defense
Charlie McAvoy headlines the Bruins’ defensive core. McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk make up the first pairing for the Bruins which is a solid pairing. The other two defensive pairings were no match for the scoring depth of the Islanders.
The Bruins have a great group of forwards and one of the best top lines in the league. It may come down to some tough decisions this offseason for the Bruins to improve their defense.
Maybe the Islanders’ offense was just superior, but it says a lot about the Bruins when both their second and third pairings rank in the bottom half of the league.
4. The New York Islanders Have a Passionate Fanbase
Some of the most electric environments this NHL Playoffs have come inside Nassau Coliseum, where the Islanders play. It’s not just because they’re finally back at full capacity but because of the energy the fans bring every night.
During the pregame National Anthem, the anthem singer for the Islanders let the fans sing in unison. The energy carried over during the game when countless chants from the crowd were directed towards the Boston Bruins.
Long, echoed chants of “Tuuka” mocked Tuuka Rask the whole entire game. Throughout the game, it almost felt as if there was a constant yelling like at a European soccer game or from a student section of a college basketball game. When the final minutes were winding down, chants of “Boston sucks” and “We want Tampa” rang through the stadium.
The fans got their wish Wednesday night. The Lightning are coming.
Cover Image Courtesy of theathletic.com