Mateo Vazquez ’21
As the NHL season winds down, this year’s playoffs are being held under unique circumstances. Disregarding the lack of fans in the stadium and the interruptions in their season, the National Hockey League has safely arrived at round two of the playoffs this past weekend. Game Six resulted in a tied-up series, at (3-3). The most interesting standout thus far coming out of Game Six was the intense matchup between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders on Saturday.
What should have been an easy sweep for the Islanders turned into a fight for control of the puck very early on in the match. The Flyers came out strong with two goals in the first period and put the Islander’s goalie under constant fire throughout the period, which certainly demonstrated their excellent tactical abilities with the puck.
While the Islanders were able to make a comeback later in the period and get a shot on goal, they were not able to recover as well on the defensive end, which resulted in them entering the period down by a goal. Things were not looking up, but they certainly showed throughout the match that they had the spirit to recover strong. During the second period, the Islanders came out in full force and synchronized their attacks on the net, coming one after another to score. They were able to cause havoc on the Flyers net and score a total of three goals taking the lead, 4-3, in an exciting turn of events.
Things took a turn for the worse in the third period as the Flyers were attempting to tie the game up and send it into overtime. While the Islanders were playing excellent defense throughout the third period, the Flyers were able to outmaneuver them in a transition from defense to offense and again demonstrate their control of the puck. In a matter of 15 seconds, the Flyer’s center was able to take the puck across the mid while their forward, Scott Laughton, went to the far right side. The Islanders made a push for the center, leaving Laughton open for a pass and a rush on goal for the shot to tie the game up at 4-4. While the Islanders attempted to make a comeback, they could not connect as an offensive front, but managed to hold out on defense allowing Game Six to go into overtime in what would become one of the most exhilerating and thrilling moments of the match.
Overtime saw both sides relentlessly firing shots on the net for any chance to gain a lead and win Game Six. However, much like the first and third periods, the Islanders struggled to come together in attacks on the net which hindered their chances to effectively connect with the net. On the other hand, the Flyers were making the quick plays necessary to get down the rink and set themselves up to score, but just kept coming up empty handed and could not seem to find their center. The Flyers found themselves connecting in one of their offensive pushes and within a few quick passes they attacked the net and were able to push a shot through bringing the score to 5-4. The Flyers sealed the game and allowed them to advance to Game Seven against the Islanders. The celebration and sense of victory for the team was palpable.
Over the weekend, the two teams faced off again and the Islanders came out in full force determined to finish the game and advance strong. In the first period alone, the Islanders were able to hold off the Flyers and land two strong shots on net that sealed off the first period at 2-0. Then in the second, the Islanders once again persisted and landed another shot on net that got inside the pocket, and then retreated to defense to keep the 3-0 lead against the Flyers, who were not able to rally back on offense and make a successful attack on net.
While the Flyers attempted a last-minute push in the third period, they came up unsuccessful and the Islanders advanced with an end game score of 4-0. The Islanders advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals to face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning while the Las Vegas Golden Knights will take on the Dallas Stars. This advancement for the Islanders marks their first Conference Finals in 27 years in what is surely a victory being celebrated by Islander’s fans everywhere. It was certainly an exciting result and a thrilling moment for hockey history.
The match which occured last night for the Islanders was one in which they had to continue on with their offense. It was clear from the start that the match would boil down to an intense toss up of who was able to have more puck control and which defense was able to limit the minor errors during the match. Last night’s face-off between the No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning and No. 6 New York Islanders took a turn, and by the third period the Lightning were in the lead 7-2. The Lightning took out the Boston Bruins with an end result score 4-1 in their last game, so it was obvious they were not going to let the Islanders off without a fight.
The beginning of the game saw a strong start for the Lightning, who were quick to put up three goals. One of these three was provided by centre Brayden Point, who wasted no time in ensuring the Lightning came out of Game Seven on top.
The Western Conference has also been shaping up to be a good toss-up between the Knights and the Dallas Stars. Particularly for the young Knights team who went to the Stanley Cup during their first season (2017-2018) and lost to the Washington Capitals. A win against the Dallas Stars would allow them to have a second shot at a Stanley Cup win and a chance to bring home their first win to Las Vegas.
While the Stars already won game one against the Knights by one goal, it is quite evident that these teams are evenly matched and the victory by Dallas can be equated to a slip up by the Knights goaltender, who was not on point during the match. If anything, the takeaway from Game One should be that defense is going to be the key to success in these upcoming games.
The next game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs will take place tonight, Sept. 8, at 8:00 p.m. with the Stars facing off against the Knights. Then, the Eastern Conference continues on Wednesday with another face-off between the Islanders and the Lightning, possibly giving the Islanders a chance to redeem themselves after last night’s performance. It will certainly be a game worth fans paying attention to.
However the matches turn out, you can bet that the Tripod sports team will be on the case, providing you with the latest up-to-date accounts on the most thrilling moments in the NHL season this year for your reading pleasure.