Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:
It was easy to see how disappointed Anders Lee was about not being in the lineup for Games 6 and 7 in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. His monotone response made it quite clear when the subject was brought up on Wednesday.
“Sorry I can’t really explain it. It was really hard,” the 24-year-old Islanders’ forward said. Lee had been one of the Islanders biggest contributors during the regular season. He had the team’s second-most goals (25) and finished the year with 41 points in 76 games.
But in the playoffs, he found himself struggling to make an impact. He only had a point in five postseason contests and was a minus-1. Then he found himself watching from the press box in the final two games of the Islanders’ opening-round series loss to the Washington Capitals
It wasn’t the way Lee had imagined things going, but he understands why it played out the way it did.
“We play so many games and you know what makes you successful,” Lee said. “And what doesn’t [make you successful]. So you have an idea of what’s going on. I knew what I needed to do and what didn’t happen. It was tough just not being able to correct it.” To read more of this story, click here
John Tavares has been named a finalist for the Hart Trophy, awarded to the league’s most valuable player, the NHL announced on Wednesday.
This is the second time in three seasons Tavares has been named a finalist (2012-13).
Tavares finished second for the Art Ross Trophy with 38 goals, 48 assists and 86 points, and added two goals and four assists in the playoffs.
Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and Montreal’s Carey Price round of the finalist field.
Well deserved. Tavares was unbelievable all season long, and it’s been a pleasure to watch him develop into one of the best players in the world. He may have an uphill battle against Price, who has been the difference maker for the Canadiens this season, but I think this one is going to be close.
Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:
The Islanders continued to clean out their lockers on Wednesday, trying to focus on the positives of the season, rather than what went wrong in Game 7. It was evident the pain was still there from Monday’s 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals.
“You never want to go home unless you’re going home with a Cup,” Johnny Boychuk said. “Obviously we’re going home a little bit early and it’s hard to swallow, that’s for sure.”
The loss was far from the ending the team was hoping for and now that it is over, some players are adjusting to not having to prepare for games.
“It’s always weird going from such an emotional roller coaster to just boom, having not to. The next couple of days will be weird,” Nick Leddy said. “I won’t be able to sleep to much. I’ll sleep in I guess, but it’s definitely really weird.”
As strange as the next few days will be and as disappointed as the team still is, there was as a sense of optimism as the players met with the media. The long-dormant Islanders burst back onto the hockey scene in the 2014-15 season and the core of the team will still be together next year for the 2015-16 season.
And the experience from the series with Washington will help going forward.
“Looking back at being in Boston and losing the first time when we were up 3-0,” Boychuk said. “Using that next year to go far in the playoffs and use that as motivation. Take that experience and we won the next year. Hopefully we can do that here and it was a Game 7 where we didn’t play our best.
“Next year if we get in that situation we could use that as motivation to drive us to win that Game 7.”
The Islanders will have the next few months to reflect on the season before training camps begin in September, but the confidence level is high moving forward.
“Obviously, we didn’t accomplish the final goal, but we have a great team,” Leddy said.
All eyes were on the Islanders on Monday night.
According to Newsday, Monday night’s Game 7 set Islanders ratings and viewership records on MSG and MSG Plus that dated back 25 years.
“The game, which the Capitals won, 2-1, averaged 4.47 percent of New York-area homes and 459,786 viewers. In the key demographic of adults ages 25-54, the game averaged a 3.31 rating – better than those of Monday night’s Yankees, Mets and Nets games combined.” (Best, Apr 28)
Overall, Islanders television ratings were up 79 percent this season (SBJ, Apr 20)
As sad as it was to see the Islanders’ season end, there’s some solace in knowing that this franchise is back, both on the ice and in the New York media landscape.
From a business perspective, this is exactly the kind of season the team needed heading into the Brooklyn move. Die hards who are discouraged by the move will be more willing to stick around, while new casual fans stumble upon the exciting brand of hockey the Islanders play. Even though there are so many bittersweet emotions at the end of this season, one thing is for certain: it’s great to see this franchise in its rightful place, getting the attention it deserves, and having it all translate into more resources to re-invest in the club.
Even after 16 NHL seasons, Lubomir Visnovsky may have some hockey in him yet.
“I want to play, but sometimes my body doesn’t work,” Visnovsky told reporters when asked if he would return for a 17th season. “I have all summer to think about it.”
If Visnovsky does decide to play, he’s like to stick around to see if the Islanders can build on their breakout season.
“It’s a good team, good guys, young guys,” Visnovsky said. “I thought we had chance for Stanley Cup.” (Staple, Apr 29)
In 53 games, Visnovsky scored five goals and totaled 15 assists for 20 points, one quarter of which (5) were on the power play.
The 2014-15 season was a good sampling of what you’ll get from Lubo. When he’s in the lineup, he’ll be a solid defender and a huge asset on the power play. That was on full display in the postseason. But he’ll also be turning 39 in August, so the injury issues aren’t going away any time soon.
If Visnovsky wants to come back, the Islanders should definitely be open to it. He has a great chemistry with Thomas Hickey, so to have that pairing as your five-six, and essentially use Lubo as a stopgap for the likes of Scott Mayfield, Griffin Reinhart, or Ryan Pulock isn’t a bad idea at all. If the desire to play is there and the dollar amount is reasonable, I wouldn’t be shocked to see number 11 hanging in Visnovsky’s locker on Opening Night.
With the Islanders set to move to Brooklyn, former players and team executives share their memories of the Nassau Coliseum.
Travis Hamonic is recovering from a torn left MCL (Staple, Apr 28)
Hamonic had been sidelined since April 10 after being hip checked into the boards in the knee area by the Penguins’ Rob Scuderi. The initial prognosis for the injury was six-to-eight weeks, and Hamonic was hopeful he could have played toward the end of the second round had the Islanders advanced.
Surgery will not be necessary to repair the tear, and Hamonic told reporters his rehab is going extremely well. (Staple, Apr 28)
It’s very encouraging to hear Hamonic won’t need surgery. It’s just such a shame the Islanders took this hit so close to the postseason. Travis was obviously working diligently to get back for a potential match up with the Rangers, but I’m not so sure it isn’t better for him to just have a full offseason to recover. Hamonic is a big part of what Garth Snow has built on the blueline. He’ll should be 100 percent and ready to go for training camp.