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NHL New York Islanders

2013 NHL Playoffs: 5 Most Important Players for the New York Islanders

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5 Most Important Players for the New York Islanders in the 2013 NHL Playoffs

James Gullory - USA Today Sports

To say New York Islanders fans have been waiting a while for this is an understatement.

It’s been five seasons -- five dreadful seasons -- since Nassau Coliseum saw postseason hockey. Back in 2007, the then No. 8 seeded Islanders won just one game against the Buffalo Sabres. Since then it’s been nothing but fourth and fifth place finishes for the Atlantic Division.

The one shining beacon through those rough years has been John Tavares, selected No. 1 overall by the team in 2009. Throughout the next three seasons after being drafted he provided the only excitement Islander fans had and continuously showed signs of becoming a superstar.

Finally in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, Tavares put it all together and became a top 5 player in the NHL. He finished third in the league in goals scored with 28 and was in the top 20 in points and shots on goal. His emergence helped lead the Islanders to a 24-17-7 season, which in the end was just enough for a No. 8 seed to set up a matchup with the No. 1 Pittsburgh Penguins.

It wasn’t just Tavares, however, as he finally had some help from a few key players that will no doubt have to continue playing well if the Islanders want to keep this postseason run alive. There are a few key goal scorers, defenders and overall leaders who can help give the Pens a run for their money.

Here are the five most important of the many key players for the Islanders in their first postseason since 2007.

Rich Arleo is a fantasy sports expert with Rant Sports. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @Rarleo and 'Like' him on Facebook.

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5. RW Kyle Okposo

Brad Penner - USA Today Sports

The first line can’t be the only ones to play well, and after struggling early in the year Okposo has come on of late. He’s been playing a ton of strong minutes for the team and will need to continue to do so.

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4. LW Matt Martin

Brad Penner - USA Today Sports

An emotional leader and resident tough guy for the Islanders, Martin led the team in penalty minutes. His big knockout of New Jersey Devils veteran winger Tom Kostopoulos is credited by many as being the start of the April playoff push for the Islanders. A few big hits and another KO would certainly get the Coliseum crowd rocking and make it a very tough atmosphere for the Penguins

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3. LW Matt Moulson

Debby Wong - USA Today Sports

Moulson’s play on the line alongside Tavares has been a key for the Islanders all season. If he struggles, Tavares usually has a tough time as well. Moulson playing at his best on the front line is vital to New York’s success.

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2. Evgeni Nabokov

Debby Wong - USA Today Sports

The veteran Nabby was one of the best goaltenders in the league in April with a goals against average (GAA) of 1.76 and a record of 7-0-4. Throughout the season he went through some streaks of poor play and specifically struggled against the Penguins. He will have to be at the top of his game and continue his strong April play against some of the best scorers in the league.

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1. C John Tavares

James Gullory - USA Today Sports

The Islanders finally have their superstar to help them compete with the big boys for years to come. The team leader in goals and points is the difference-maker who can stand up against the likes of Sidney Crosby (should he play) and Evgeni Malkin to hurt the Pens.