New York Islanders: Islanders encouraged, but not satisfied after Game 2 win

New York Islanders.Game 2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
New York Islanders.Game 2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

In what was by far the most violent hockey game the New York Islanders have played in this year, the Isles were able to walk away from Game 2 with a win and a series lead. The results are ideal and encouraging, but not satisfying.

The 2018-2019  New York Islanders season has become one for the ages. The team went from losing its franchise player in July to 103 points and home ice advantage by the time the playoffs rolled around. Of course, a lot of things happened in between, but the moral of the story is that the New York Islanders are still not supposed to the team that is here.

You already know the story. The Islanders are the team that almost no one predicted would be here. They don’t have the talent, don’t have the experience, they play in a tough division, are under year one of a new regime, whatever the reason was, this was not supposed to be the team that made the playoffs let alone sitting pretty with a 2-0 series lead about to go to Pittsburgh.

This team is here, with a 2-0 lead because of their talent. Their best players, Josh Bailey (goal), the scorching hot Jordan Eberle (goal, assists), Robin Lehner (save machine), Mathew Barzal (assist machine), the young defensemen of Ryan Pulock who played over 22 minutes in Game 2 by the way, and Devon Toews who drew a penalty against Evgeni Malkin and played a respectable 19:54 himself.

Those are the players and reasons why they find themselves up by two games and why they still hold home ice in this series. One of the biggest reasons why the Islanders are just here, in the playoffs in general, is the mindset they have.

They don’t have to be like us fans and some writers. They don’t have to start by simply be happy that they are here. They have the right mindset. Even after a massive Game 2 win, a series changing, assertion of dominance type win, they know how much work is left to be had.

That says it all in the quote. The Islanders played better in Game 2 than they did in Game 1 and yet, they still feel they can play better. It will be difficult to play another game in which they outscore, outhit, outshoot, get less penalties, win more face offs, and have more GVA in a win against a team like the Penguins but clearly the Isles will try.

Obviously Coach Trotz is going to say all these things. After all, the standard he sets this team to is one of the biggest reasons they are good. He had this team believing in themselves from day one.

But it is not even that Trotz preached encouraged, but not satisfied, his players have fully bought into it. Look at this post game interview from Robin Lehner as well. He too, knows the bigger days are ahead.

The players, all season long have believed in themselves. That is what helped them get to the playoffs. They know that what they are doing is incredible. They have bought into the opposite types of narratives that people were telling about them.

While most were saying they can’t Barry Trotz had them believing that they can. The players believe that they can win the Cup too, that they want to and that is reflected in the interview.

I know it is par for the course for players and coaches to say and do the right things. They can’t just say they don’t want to win. But, saying and doing are two different things. The Islanders are saying they want to win the Cup but are now doing it.

After two game of the playoffs, the Islanders are once again showing us that mentality is what can get them over the hump, not just talent. While the world know who Sidney Crosby is, he has been shutdown. While the world knows who Mathew Barzal is becoming, he is thriving.

But, the talent alone does not win, it helps. What wins is knowing the goal, knowing how to approach that goal, and understanding what steps in getting to that goal are actually important. The Islanders seem to understand what comes next, a tough test in Pittsburgh vs a team hungry for vengeance.

But, the Islanders can also rest easy for at least a night knowing they have a two game lead against a team with the longest playoff streak currently in the NHL and knowing they have their best advantage, the Coliseum, still in their hands.

From the Archives. Josh Bailey appreciation article. light

Encouraged, but not satisfied. That is  one of my personal favorite sayings and the Islanders seem to all be buying in on that kind of mentality. They are already a special team, but special might not stand alone if they don’t do more. They have each other’s back too, just watch this if you don’t believe me.