The Islanders are in – that is they made the NHL postseason tournament which will start at a date to be determined by the league.
Despite the midseason skid and the rough patch, the Isles found themselves just before the season suspension, the Islanders have prevailed and will find themselves in a chance to actually play for the Stanley Cup at the end of the aforementioned tournament.
In reality, do the Islanders have a legitimate shot at advancing far into this tournament? The short answer is yes they do.
So does every team in the tournament.
When the clock is re-set and the NHL returns to the ice, teams will be playing what may feel like the first game of the regular season. After being out for nearly three months and the tournament not expected to take place until July, teams will have to essentially start their seasons over and prepare like this tournament is a brand new season.
Yes, the top teams in both conferences will get a first-round bye and then probably play each other in a seeding round but with months of inactivity hanging around every team in the tournament right now, this whole new concept leaves the Stanley Cup wide open to the last team standing regardless of their records prior to March 12th.
The Islanders come into this tournament as the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.
With a 35-23-10 regular-season record including 19-20-8 since November 25th and an 0-3-4 skid in the final days before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, the Islanders have to be optimistic that they’re getting a second chance on life with this postseason tournament.
The disappointments and shortcomings of 2019-20 are literally histories and they are moving on to compete against the tenth seeded Florida Panthers.
The likely scenario for this matchup will be a best of five series in one of the hub cities selected by the NHL. If the Islanders can revive themselves and find new life and purpose, they can beat the Panthers and move on to the second round against one of the higher-seeded teams, and then this tournament will really get interesting fast. A hot team on a winning streak may come in and knock off one of the top-seeded teams and advance on to possibly play in the Stanley Cup finals. This tournament gives every one of the 24 teams a shot at hoisting the Cup come what looks like September.
An additional bonus for the Islanders is the fact that they are getting both Casey Cizikas and Adam Pelech back from Injured Reserve status. Pelech is coming off of an Achilles tendon injury suffered on January 2nd and subsequent surgery to repair the injured tendon. Pelech is now healthy and there are no additional protocols for him or Cizikas to clear before starting practice.
The Islanders and every other team in the tournament is awaiting the “green light” to start limited, six-player workouts, and then transitioning to full practices before this tournament begins which is likely next month.
As the NHL announces additional plans for the tournament, each team has been brought new life and maybe, just maybe this will be remembered as the year of the upsets in this tournament.
At any rate, there will be a Stanley Cup winner in 2020 in what looks to possibly be a crowded fall full of sports with the NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL, and college football all looking to create a cornucopia of happiness for sports fans this September.
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