Nothing like postseason hockey
Postseason hockey brings out the best of fans and players through shifts, saves and possessions.
There’s no comparison between the Stanley Cup Playoffs and regular season hockey. Think of the playoffs as 120 mph while regular season hockey is 90 mph when it comes to action. Every possession turns out to be huge. Every save makes it to be a story. Every shot pounds the heart of everyone. Every shift gets analyzed.
Playoff hockey is not for the faint of heart. So much stress that comes with it, especially if the opposing team makes it happen. Islanders fans dealt with it on Wednesday night when the Pittsburgh Penguins fired shots after shots at the unflappable Robin Lehner. When the Islanders scored, the Penguins scored, too.
The hockey gods decided to make it harder for the Islanders to host their first playoff game at the Nassau Coliseum for the first time in 31 years by making this game go to overtime. It was meant to be for a team participating in the playoffs for the first time in four years.
Wednesday night made all of this rewarding for the Islanders and their fans. The result helps it easy to enjoy, but that’s the beauty of all this. Hard work and anxiety symbolize what postseason hockey is all about, especially if your favorite team is in it. Teams win the Stanley Cup by earning it such as winning overtime games.
If nothing else, the Islanders showed why they deserved to be in the playoffs this season. They knew how to grind out victories like this instead of panicking against a skilled Penguins team. Credit the coaches for having the players be prepared in these situations, but it would be a disservice to the players by not crediting them for responding. After all, players play the game. They make it happen.
This does not mean the Islanders will win the Stanley Cup. Fifteen teams play in the playoffs, too, and they are as good as the Islanders. Teams being evened up make playoff hockey this much special. No one can say that about the NBA playoffs or even the NFL playoffs.
The Islanders have as much of a chance as everyone. Skill matters in hockey, but will is so important as skill. It showed in Game 1 of the Islanders’ 4-3 victory over the Penguins.
The best team not winning the Stanley Cup makes all of this credible. Greatness is a blessing and a curse. Yes, teams make it beautiful by winning because of how hard it is to grind through in a regular season and in the playoffs, but for the average fan, he or she does not want to watch the same team win over and over.
The NBA playoffs offer nothing because everyone knows the Golden State Warriors will win the NBA championship. Beating them with three top players in the league and an underrated bench makes it hard to do four out of six times. Ever notice that it’s the same teams that win the NBA championship year after year going back to the 80s.
No one knows if the Islanders are going to win the Stanley Cup. Smart money says it won’t happen. But the journey makes it all interesting because they have a chance. Every game and every possession make it out to be an adventure. Lucky bounces and breaks happen in playoff hockey, and teams win playoff games through it.
The heartbreak can be depressing. Ask the Rangers. They competed for the Stanley Cup in recent years, and in the end, they had nothing to show for it. Now, they are rebuilding. For players like Henrik Lundqvist, regrets become part of the game since they will think about what they could have done to be better and win the Cup.
Players will work hard to avoid heartbreaks, but they can’t do nothing about it if comes. Fans remember this forever. Rangers fans will no doubt think about what could have been had Lundqvist played better in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final. They also will think about what could have been had a Ranger stepped up in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, which the Rangers lost 2-0 to the Tampa Bay Lightning, making this the end of their run.
No pressure for the Islanders to win the Stanley Cup this year. This makes all of this better and enjoyable. They can continue to defy expectations and make their story even better than they have.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs offer hope.
The Islanders demonstrated that on Wednesday night.
Everyone wonders now what will they do next.
The beauty of postseason hockey makes us think of the possibilities whether it’s good or bad.