The New York Islanders made a statement to the rest of the NHL by sweeping the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Here’s a look at how they did it.
No one expected the New York Islanders to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs back in October. Yet they did. Perhaps everyone should have been paying attention, as the Isles yet again proved everyone wrong by sweeping the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Islanders are looking like a team capable of going deep into the postseason, and perhaps one capable of lifting the Stanley Cup. After struggling to score goals in the regular season, they came out with guns blazing in the playoffs.
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This series was supposed to be a close one. However, the Islanders took control and never gave it up. Josh Bailey‘s overtime game-winning goal in Game 1 was apparently the blow that sunk the Penguins. While it was an embarrassing showing for Pittsburgh, credit goes to the Islanders for being the better team.
Let’s take a look at how the Isles flipped the script on their recent history and came out on top.
The Nassau Crowd
Nassau Coliseum was rocking in Games 1 and 2. It was like someone stuffed the arena full of European soccer fans and SEC football fans. The crowd was energetic throughout Games 1 and 2, which give the Islanders an edge.
Lack of Star Power
The Penguins got minimal contributions from Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, and Phil Kessel. Combined, the quartet put up seven points, including just two goals. The Islanders did a terrific job shutting down the Penguins’ best players. Very few have been able to do so in the postseason.
Lack of Identity
Pittsburgh played like a team who didn’t know who they were. That’s something they’ve got to work on in the summer. Are they a skilled team? Or are they a bruising team? Maybe somewhere in between? Regardless of what the answer is, the Penguins need to make a decision and build a roster that reflects their answer.