The New York Islanders are a long way from their storied years four straight Stanley Cups, but this version of the Isles are hoping to add another chapter to that book. Looking to make their way back to the Stanley Cup final, they will need to beat a red hot Tampa Bay Lightning team, but with Barry Trotz’s system, they can extinguish that flame.
Front Runner: Mathew Barzal
No John Tavares? No problem. Picking up the talismanic role of the franchise, Barzal has done just that in these Stanley Cup playoffs. From his skill and his skating to his leadership on the ice Barzal plays an offense that most teams would gush over and will outwork even the best player.
Currently third on the Islanders in points, goals, and 2nd in assists for this Islanders team he is leading the forward group in ice time at a hair over 19 minutes and playing in every situation.
While you see second and third for some of those categories, he has yet to have his breakout game of the conference finals. While the Isles are down 2-1 at the time of this writing, for them to advance to the cup, I would not be shocked to see him take over a deciding game and lead this team back to glory.
Lead your team in points in the playoffs and you will have a strong case for the Conn Smythe. That is Josh Bailey’s hope. If his team is to take home the Stanley Cup, Bailey will be a big part of that equation. Currently leading the Isles in points and assists, his point per game pace is impressive. He is currently 15th all-time on the Islanders scoring record if this team hopes to continue that magical run he will ascend higher on that list and he will jump Pat Lafontaine with his next point.
As mentioned Barry Trotz is a defensive mastermind (some may say he makes the game boring, this writer disagrees), and what good is a defensive system without a good defensive player? Pulock leads the islanders in ice time these playoffs but it is what he does with this ice time that is important. Currently, top 5 in SAT (NHL.com stat of qualifying players, playing over 5 minutes per game) for driving puck possession for the Islanders and maintaining puck possession against a team like Tampa not allowing them to score is a strong way to punch your ticket to the Stanley cup finals.
Be sure to read all our coverage of the Conference Finals teams and who our 4th Line Podcast writers think will take home personal silverware if their team lifts the greatest trophy in all of sports! Check out who was selected for the Vegas Golden Knights, Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning!