The 2020 playoffs included 24 teams competing for a championship in August as a result of the outbreak of Covid-19 in March. The Islanders were one of those teams. The Isles were going through a bad stretch when the NHL paused the season. They were slipping out of playoff contention due to losing their number one defensemen, Adam Pelech in January due to an Achilles injury. That being said, no one knew what to expect from the Islanders. However, they gained the attention they deserved as the playoffs progressed.
The Islanders Dominate in the Play-in
The Islanders needed to win a best-of-five against the Panthers in the play-in round. New York was at full strength and it showed with Pelech healthy, the Panthers were no match. The Isles imposed their style of play in the first two games resulting in wins.
New York however lost game three due to a lack of discipline. The Panthers took advantage of their powerplay chances to force a game 4. The Islanders successfully bounced back to win the series. As a result of the play-in win, the Islanders moved on to the first round of the 2020 playoffs.
New York Continues its Dominance in the 2020 Playoffs Against the Caps
The Islanders looked to continue rolling against the Capitals and they certainly did. The Islanders head coach, Barry Trotz faced off against his former team in the playoffs for the first time. Trotz and the Islanders successfully carried out a gameplan where they contained Alex Ovechkin.
The Islanders played so well that they advanced in 5 games in a best-of-seven series. The Islanders second line stepped up in this series and the team couldn’t have gotten as far as they did without this line. Josh Bailey, Anthony Beauvillier, and Brock Nelson all had a spectacular first-round and playoffs in general.
The Isles Defeat the Flyers Making it to the Conference Finals
The last time New York made it to the Eastern Conference Finals was in 1993. A series win against Philadelphia would guarantee the team made it back to the conference finals. Things were looking good for the Islanders winning 3 of the first 4, meaning one more win would get them a trip to Edmonton for the Conference Finals.
However, the number one seed Flyers wouldn’t go down without a fight and won the next two games to force a game seven. Trotz made a surprising decision to go to the back-up goalie, Thomas Greiss, for the game. The decision was a good one because Greiss earned a shut-out leading his team to the Conference Finals.
Fatigue was a Factor against Tampa Bay
The Islanders had to face the well-rested Lightning with only one day of rest. The Lightning took advantage of the tired Islanders in game 1 winning 8-2. The Lightning won game 2, but one of their stars, Brayden Point, suffered an injury. Brayden Point wasn’t available for game 3 and the Islanders were able to win the game.
However, Point was ready to go for game 4 helping his team take a 3-1 lead, but he was still shaken up. That being said the Islanders played without Point in Game 5 and lost. He came back for game 6 ending the Islanders’ unimaginable playoffs run in overtime.
Takeaways from the 2020 Playoffs
The Islanders proved they were one of the best in the East this playoffs. They pulled off two upsets before their season came to an end. Adam Pelech shows why he is a crucial part of this team and turned things around for the Islanders’ upon hockey’s return.
Despite the Islanders’ team being one of the older teams, they showed that they can keep up with the rising teams and will not be taken lightly in the upcoming season. Making the Conference Finals is an incredible accomplishment. It is more incredible that they did this when no one considered them Contenders due to their struggles in March. The Islanders have made a name for themselves in the NHL and fans couldn’t be happier to see how far they have come. The Islanders’ future is bright.