Tuesday, April 26, 2016

N.Y. Islanders: John Tavares Plants His Flag on Flatbush Avenue

From the desk of:  FIVE FOR FLATBUSH


Islanders defeat Panthers 4-2
I - NYI 5; FLA 4
II - FLA 3; NYI 1
III - NYI 4; FLA 3*
IV - FLA 2; NYI 1
V - NYI 2; FLA 1*
VI - NYI 2; FLA 1*

NEW YORK ISLANDERS: It took four years, but Barclays Center finally enjoyed its first transcendental moment.

The Brooklyn Nets' lone post-season series victory 
was clinched in Toronto.

Let the record show that on April 24, 2016, a hockey team from Brooklyn won its first ever Stanley Cup Playoff series.

The folks out in Uniondale, Nassau County, and greater Long Island, however, waited 23 long years for their favorite team to finally win a playoff series again.  The waiting period for Flatbush Avenue's first modern transcendental moment, on the other hand, wasn't nearly as long.  After all, it has only been seven months since the Islanders hosted the Borough's inaugural season opener.

There was nevertheless plenty for all to celebrate this past Sunday throughout this stretch of land separated from mainland New York proper.

After splitting games One and Two against the Panthers in Sunrise, Florida, Barclays Center's first ever NHL playoff game ended with Thomas Hickey's overtime goal, giving the Islanders a 2-1 series edge.

In Game Six, Barclays rumbled and shook like the walls of Jericho upon witnessing John Tavares' game tying goal with just 0:54 left in regulation, then damn nearly crumbled after his series clinching goal in double-overtime.

With the Knicks, Nets, Devils, and the recently eliminated New York Rangers all idle, the limelight turned its focus squarely on Islanders' captain John Tavares, whom demonstrated why he's quietly been the metropolitan area's premier hockey player throughout his seven year career.

Simply stating Tavares registered nine points (5 goals, 4 assists) in six games against the Florida Panthers would be a major injustice.  The Islanders team captain led his team into the second round of playoffs with uncommon actions and supreme deeds.
  • Game One: His goal with 0:22 left in the 2nd period tied the game at two.
  • Game Two: He scored the Islanders only goal during a 3-1 loss.
  • Game Three: His first assist of the 2nd period helped bring the Islanders within 2-1 of the Panthers.  His second assist of the 2nd period helped the Islanders tie the game at three.
  • Game Four: He scored the lone Islanders goal (PP) in a 2-1 loss.
  • Game Six: He scored the game tying goal with 0:54 left in regulation, then stuffed in his own rebound with a wrap-around goal in double overtime.

Behind the Mask

All John Tavares' heroics would have been mere afterthoughts, however, were it not for the net minding of Thomas Greiss.  It took cartwheels and back flips, but the Isles' back-up goalie played like a season long starter against the Panthers, and for good reason.  He appeared in exactly half the Islanders games this season, and made 38 starts.  

Starting goalie Jaroslav Halak last played on March 8 against the Penguins.  Greiss then started 11 of the Islanders final 18 regular season games, before being thrust into Round One against the Florida Panthers.  Greiss posted a .944 Sv%, and a stellar 1.79 GAA in six games.  After surrendering four goals in Game One, Greiss limited the Panthers to 10 goals over the next five games, and held them to a lone goal in both games Five and Six.

*image: nydn/getty

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