Way back in the day, the New York Islanders were one of the most feared teams in the NHL. Their battles with the rival New York Rangers and the Edmonton Oilers were the stuff that legends were made of. Oh, and let’s not forget those four Stanley Cups in a row.
However, those were the days gone by. The Islanders of the late 20th and 21st centuries have been the doormat of the league, so to speak. They haven’t had a playoff appearance since 2007 and that one was a brief one. The club was swept by the Buffalo Sabres.
Their arena, the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, is nicknamed ‘the mausoleum.’ It is considered one of the worst places to play in, drive to, as well as watch a game at.
An unfortunate wardrobe choice in the early nineties saddled them with the moniker, ‘the fish sticks’ due to the uncanny resemblance of their jersey to the Gorton’s Fisherman logo.
The infamous Potvin chant still echoes through the rafters of Madison Square Garden even though Denis Potvin has long since hung up his skates and moved on.
Of course, there was that whole Rick DiPietro contract which has made them and their unlucky former goaltender the butt of many jokes since the team inked him to a fifteen-year deal for an exorbitant amount of money. He is now the highest paid player in the AHL.
It seems as though they have been rebuilding for ages, but the times they are changing for the Islanders.
Their days are numbered in the Coliseum. They will be moving to new digs in Brooklyn for the 2015-16 season when the lease is up on Long Island.
Those first round draft picks are finally starting to pay dividends and their goaltending? Well, they finally have one. Evegeni Nabokov once refused to put an arm in an Islander jersey after being traded to them and now he seems to have found a rebirth of sorts out on the Island.
The once laughing stocks are now in a playoff position and are challenging the teams in the Eastern Conference. They aren’t anyone’s doormat anymore.
Tonight’s match up against the Tampa Bay Lightning has John Tavares and company making a move to solidify their spot in the post season. Unfortunately, the team took the ice without one of their mainstays, Matt Moulson.
The forward ,who was signed as a free agent in the summer of 2009, has played in every game since putting on an Islander uniform. His impressive 284 game streak came to an end this evening due to a bout with the flu.
His replacement on the top line, Michael Grabner got the team off to a good start in the first period by putting one by the Lightning’s new addition, goaltender Ben Bishop.
The Lightning would even it up in the second on a goal by Richard Panik, but the tie wouldn’t stand for long with Josh Bailey putting the Islanders back on the winning side. However, it was fleeting. The always dangerous Matt Carle would even it up early in the third with Steven Stamkos getting the assist.
For the Islanders, never say die is becoming their motto and Matt Martin would put it past Bishop, who never saw the disk, for the lead with 6:46 remaining in regulation.
The Islanders would hang on this time, grabbing two more vital points on their march to the playoffs.