It is so nice to get to talk about ROUND 2. When I last could talk about it – I wasn’t even 30 years old…. (Guess my age!?)
Now – the Tampa Bay Lightning are on the horizon. Games 1 and 2 will be in Tampa probably on Thursday and Saturday. With Justin Bieber in concert at the Barclay’s, it would look like Monday and Thursday in Brooklyn. For this series, the Isles will have time to heal and rest, which will be of a big help.
Starting 1 and 2 on back-to-back nights, had to play a role in conditioning and the what not. For guys like Hamonic, Boychuk, Leddy, as well as the forwards that log big minutes in games, having the two days between some games will help heal and recover better.
Now – the Bolts.
They walked through Detroit, but not as easily as it seems. What killed the Wings was the power play. They pulled what the Isles did against Washington last season.
0 for 24.
A lot worse that what we did, but 0 for 20 nevertheless. That could be a big factor. The Islander power play in the last series did better than past performances. Getting a few goals with the advantage will help significantly.
On the other side with Steven Stamkos and defenseman Anton Stralman out for the series, they will need some big help to bolster their man advantage, against one of the best PK’s in hockey right now. You can not forget the kid line, and others on the Lightning that can beat you; this team is solid in lines 1 – 3. You can not take any of them for granted.
John Tavares was magnificent in round one, and is easily capable of doing the same thing in round two. However, this team desperately needs some scoring from the back lines. Most Islander fans whipping boy, Josh Bailey is hurt and no one knows if he will play, but you need the second and third lines to take advantage of opportunities and not to have all of the offensive numbers generate from number 91 and his line mates.
Will we see Ryan Strome return? He may be peeved off enough to make an impact. I sure hope so.
In goal – it is a toss up. Ben Bishop is a big man that takes lots of space in the net, but he can be beaten; the Isles did that twice during the season, one in the final week. You have to rattle him off his game. If you can do that – you can thrive.
As for the opposite netminder, what else can you say but thank goodness Thomas Greiss has stepped his game to career high levels and has become the number one. Even with the possible return of Jaroslav Halak to the lineup in this round; number one in orange and blue is the goalie for the immediate future, no questions asked. Getting Halak back to be the backup can be a huge help, should Greiss falter a bit. I just don’t see that happening.
As we had with Florida, I expect this to be an extremely close series, both in games and in statistics. I just do not see either side dominating the other. As they did in the last round, it is key for the Isles to take game one. Push the momentum to their side, and even if they return to Brooklyn tied at 1, the loud and raucous Barclay’s Center (DID I JUST SAY THAT?) will be a factor for the Isles. The team definitely feeds off of it – and I am sure will help the boys.
My Prediction – same as my Florida series prediction – Isles in 6. However, let’s check with ESPN and see what they say. NONE, I mean NONE of their guys (10 in all) gave the Isles a chance in the first round. I made sure I sent a tweet to the ESPN_NHL to let them know about it.
— Gary Harding (@GHardingWGBB) April 25, 2016
Let’s see if those dingbats predict the Isles THIS TIME….
Enjoy the days off – and Let’s Go Islanders!