Leslie Monteiro explores what makes the Islanders tick.
It’s been a long time.
It’s been a long time since the Islanders hoisted Lord Stanley. It was once a birthright when the Islanders would parade the ice with the Cup and have a parade of their own in Long Island back when they had that dynasty in the 80s; 1980, 1981, 1982 and 1983 to be exact.
Players such as Bryan Trottier, Clark Gillies, Bobby Nystrom, Billy Smith, John Tonelli and Mike Bossy were bigger than life back then. They still are to this day.
That’s the problem. We live in a world where we live in the past. Who can blame Islanders fans, though? It’s hard to forget what the Islanders accomplished in the 80s. Winning four straight championships is hard now in this day and age with the salary cap and the amount of minutes players log in the postseason. Ask the Blackhawks and Kings.
The current Islanders and their younger generation of fans were never around for that. They quite frankly don’t care. They want to live in the present, and right now, the present is finally good for the Islanders.
This could be a start of something good for the Islanders. Not just this year, but the next few years with the way things are going for this team.
The Islanders learned what it takes to win in playoff hockey by grinding it out defensively and doing the little things such as winning faceoffs and making the most of their second chances in scoring.
The best part of the playoffs has been how the Islanders have grown up to be a playoff team. This team has the ingredients to be a championship team.
It could be this year. It could be next year. One thing for sure. It could be soon.
The Islanders have a good goaltender who can steal games on his own in Thomas Greiss. He has been spectacular since Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. He gets better and better as each playoff game goes on.
They also have a star in John Tavares, who is a difference maker in the playoffs. It’s one thing to score regular season goals, but it’s another to score playoff goals. Scoring playoff goals is hard. It takes skill and luck. For the Islanders captain, it’s been easy for him.
He scored a goal and earned an assist in the Islanders’ 5-3 Game 1 victory over the Lightning in the Eastern Conference semifinals. He has six goals and five assists overall in the playoffs. It’s not a question of if he is going to score 10 goals anymore. It’s when.
Tavares is a guy the Islanders can count on come playoff time. That has to be encouraging moving forward for this franchise. He has a chance to join Bossy, Trottier and Nystrom as one of the greatest Islanders if he can keep this up for the rest of his Islanders career.
The current crop of Islanders is tired of hearing about the past. Who can blame them when they hear about it too constantly?
The fans of 30 and below never saw the Islanders as a great team. All they know is a team that has been inept for a long time. They don’t want to hear about the 80s anymore. Not when they never saw it. They want to see results now.
Even fans that are 40 or above are tired of hearing yesterday’s news.
This should be an opportunity for the Islanders to make their mark now. There are no guarantees next year or beyond. With the Blackhawks and Kings being eliminated, they have a chance to win it all now.
The least they can do is get to the Stanley Cup Finals.
This year has been a starting point to what the Islanders can do in the future, but the future should be now.
This is a time where Tavares and crew can make their own history.
The Islanders have a chance to do something special this year. They shouldn’t wait for next year or the year after that anymore.
There should be so much on the line for this team. These players know it. They know they can win it all this year.
They certainly have the ingredients to get it done.
33 years has been too long for the Islanders to hoist Lord Stanley.
The time has come for the team to win the Cup.
Travis Hamonic, photo by Sportsology