Welp… it’s over. The New York Islanders unfortunately fell 2 - 1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in overtime. I can't complain as they made it to game SIX of the Eastern Conference Finals (first time since 92/93). Sadly, they were potentially only TWO wins away from an opportunity to again raise the Lord Stanley Cup...
Something that hasn’t happened since the 1982 / 83 Season.
Tom's Take: I kept the intro short because we know what happened. There is no reason to go on some long, drawn out soliloquy about how the Playoffs are over - and how we'll have to wait 'till next year for more Islanders Hockey. Who wants that? The take is more important. Am I bummed they lost? Yes. It was it heartbreaking, soul crushing, gut wrenching... or pretty much any other way to describe how miserable it was watching this team lose. The Islanders have legitimately fought and clawed their way back into this position.
You bet your ass it was painful. I felt physically ill as the anxiety continued to build with each and every second passing in overtime. Clearly my obsession with sports is a little (some would say severely) unhealthy. In a time where I'd normally be teetering on the edge of depression - allowing a very painful loss in overtime ruin the following day (and potentially the weekend); I'm actually finding myself feeling bitter sweet. Why? Well, when I look back on it... to paraphrase Dante from Clerks - the Islanders, “Weren’t even supposed to be here today”. The Islanders, while resilient some of the year... had found themselves a fringe Playoff team prior to the pandemic. Therefore, they were lucky enough to still find themselves in the qualifying round in this new COVID-19 bubble. Now to be fair, the Islanders aren’t without some surprises. If you recall, it was just last year that they were
left for dead! People proclaimed that after Tavares left the Islanders, the team would be doomed for failure… that “failure” - turned into a Series WIN against the Penguins and subsequently a humbling sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes! So the terms, 'dead' and
'destined for failure' clearly shouldn't be associated with this team. However, the Conference Finals!!! A place I couldn’t even picture them being - especially seeing as though I was merely a ONE year old the last time this happened! Who could've seen that coming?
As someone who BLEEDS blue and orange - in that I'm both an Islanders and Mets fan... success is not something I’m really accustomed to! So no... I can’t tell you that I truly expected them get that far. Not that I wasn’t confident in the Isles. But keep in mind - when the team you root for has a long track record of either regularly NOT making the Playoffs; or if they do... it's met with an early exit... the mere thought of the Conference Finals or Stanley
cup are basically pipe dream! It clearly doesn’t make it hurt less getting SO close to seeing the dream of your team playing for the Championship... having it end ANY other way is devastating! It was something said by the tear-filled Captain of the New York Islanders, Anders Lee at his post-game press conference, that puts things into perspective.
This is a team that has had two years of SHATTERING their expectations! Taking a team that most considered dead after the exit of one of their “generational” players, has succeeded in making it to the Playoffs the following year in the Conference Finals! Lou Lamoriello, Barry Trotz and this team... have made it a privilege to feel the way I'm feeling today! They were knocking on the doorstep of greatness when no one would have expected them to be coming for dinner! Sure, I’m sad its all over. But I'll admit, after these past two seasons: defeating former Stanley Cup Champions, the Capitals - the rough, one-seeded Flyers... and some people's Stanley Cup favorites, the Lightning at the start of the year... I’m for the first time NOT left with a feeling of impending mediocrity! I’m here ready to start the HYPE TRAIN for next season!!! I mean, did we REALLY wanna win this one anyway? Next season is in the Coli and what’s a Stanley Cup win if there’s no parade down Hempstead Turnpike? This year was the pre-curser. Just a tad bit of foreshadowing for the run of a lifetime next year. When they’re opening their beautiful new home in Belmont for 2021 / 2022 it's going to be accompanied with the raising of a Stanley Cup banner.