As winter has turned into spring and now summer is upon us, it’s finally time to talk about the resumption of the NHL season.
The last surviving 24 teams are now in the “Return to Play” protocols meaning limited contact practices and workout sessions with no more than six players at a time. As the league transitions into Phase III of the Return to Play plans, teams can open up training camps starting July 10th.
All of the teams will be monitored continuously and thoroughly for the Covid-19 virus and teams will also be sequestered until the time to move to pre-designated hub cities which have yet to be fully announced by the NHL.
What does this really mean for the Islanders?
The twists and turns of this interrupted season mean that the Isles have earned a second chance at winning the 2020 Stanley Cup.
As the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, the Islanders will square off in an opening-round tournament series against the tenth-seeded Florida Panthers. For both teams, this postseason tournament is a kind of redemption for having underachieving, sub-par regular seasons.
The Islanders enter this tournament with a record of 35-23-10 while the Panthers posted a record of 35-26-8. The Islanders will enter this tournament healthier with the return of Casey Cizikas, Adam Pelech, and of course Johnny Boychuk. Cizikas has recovered from a leg injury, Boychuk’s eye has fully recovered and Pelech, of course, tore his Achilles tendon on December 31st. On the other side, the Panthers will be able to call upon goalie Sergei Bobrovsky who suffered a lower-body injury prior to the season suspension.
The real magic behind this summer’s NHL postseason tournament lies in the fact that many teams such as the Islanders and the Panthers find themselves in a place where second chances are being granted.
Regardless of regular-season records, all 24 NHL teams are starting out these workouts and training camp in a few weeks flat and rusty so a team’s record last March seemingly has little influence on how they will start out once the tournament dates are released.
This year’s Stanley Cup is literally up for grabs and any team who gets “hot” quickly could advance deep into the playoffs and find themselves playing in the finals.
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