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‘We want playoffs’ chants fill Nassau as Isles keep winning

Apr 7, 2013, 1:29 PM EDT

Isles

There was a sound for sore ears on Long Island last night — a crowd of over 16,000 at Nassau Coliseum chanting for the Isles’ playoff chances.

That was the scene on Saturday as the Islanders beat the Lightning 4-2, their third straight home victory, putting them two points clear of Winnipeg for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference — with a game in hand on the Jets.

“The coaching staff from the beginning said they think we have a playoff team and we know we do,” Matt Martin told the New York Post. “We just got to keep on rolling.”

Martin, Michael Grabner, Josh Bailey and Andrew MacDonald all scored for the Isles against Tampa Bay, a game they won despite being without the services of second-leading scorer Matt Moulson, who was a late scratch (illness).

The ‘We want playoffs’ chants (as reported by The Post) were a major theme on the night, as the Isles haven’t been to the postseason since 2007, the third-longest drought in the NHL.

Through the first part of the season, it looked like the drought would continue. The Isles were 8-11-2 after a loss to Toronto to close out February and looked to be in serious trouble.

But, things turned around.

Inspired play from John Tavares — the NHL’s 10th-leading scorer — and a bounce-back year from Brad Boyes has played a huge role, as have contributions throughout the lineup.

The Isles went 8-5-1 in March, are 3-1-0 in April and have finally started to win games at home, having ripped off three straight victories at Nassau against the Bolts, Jets and Panthers.

Not bad for a team that hasn’t eclipsed the 80-point plateau since making the postseason in 2006-07.

Just don’t expect the Isles to settle for what’s already been accomplished.

“We control our own destiny here, Martin explained. “We’re not looking at teams below us, we’re looking at teams ahead of us, and we’re trying to catch them.”

  1. jdrew506 - Apr 7, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    Wow, thank you Mike for actually writing a compelling and relevant story on this site. Unlike James O’Brain you understand what news is. Yes it was a great show in Nassau last night and the Islanders are showing some gutsy and gritty play down the stretch run. We need you too keep writing stories about the Islanders and other teams like the Kings, Mapleleafs that get no love from the other writers on this site even when they deserve it.

    • phillyphanatic77 - Apr 7, 2013 at 2:05 PM

      Guess they saw your comment on the other page.

    • Mike Halford - Apr 7, 2013 at 2:23 PM

      Thanks, but I don’t think it’s accurate to say 1) PHT does a poor job of covering those markets and 2) The other writers consciously ignore teams.

      We honestly try our best to give all 30 teams coverage. At the same time, part of covering news is to cover the newsmakers, and sometimes certain markets get lost in the shuffle because of that.

      Anyway, the Isles are a good story, and definitely deserve some recognition.

    • withseidelinn - Apr 7, 2013 at 6:34 PM

      Agree with you a lot here, and I would love to see the Isles make the playoffs even though I’m not a fan. I think they will get absolutely destroyed in the first round, but who knows, anything can happen right?

  2. bcisleman - Apr 7, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    Actually, Mike, the top line has NOT played a big role in the surge. They racked up many of their points earlier in the season. Matt Moulson–normally Mr. Consistency–has had particular struggles. Offense has come from the other lines–the Isles don’t have a true 2nd line at present–and forwards like Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, Frans Nielsen, Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin, Colin McDonald and now Anders Lee.

    Defense has been an even bigger factor and the Nielsen line–Frans, Kyle and Josh–has emerged as an effective shutdown line that can also produce secondary scoring. The Isles have played much better in their own zone and Nabby has been more effective as he has not been exposed to as many shots. Unfortunately, the Isles have not established an effective backup–something I’d hoped Garth would address at the deadline. The one thing that might spoil this playoff bid would be an injury to Nabby.

    Isles could finish as high as 6th. If they draw the Caps or Winnipeg as a 6th seed or Montreal as the 7th seed, they would have a realistic shot at winning their first playoff series since 1993. In fact, the way they are playing now, they would be a handful for any team they might face.

    • Mike Halford - Apr 7, 2013 at 2:21 PM

      Right, but Tavares had 11pts (eight goals) in 14 games in March, and four in four in April, so he’s doing his thing.

      Boyes had 12 points in March, which is pretty good too.

      To be honest I didn’t have the space to run down all the guys getting it done for the Isles because, as you mentioned, there are many. It’s a pretty good, deep team and credit goes to Snow for unearthing some gems and Capuano for developing them.

      • bcisleman - Apr 7, 2013 at 2:50 PM

        OK, except their surge didn’t begin on March 1. It began with the win over the Cats on March 24. Starting with that game, the Isles have scored 22 goals and the top 3 have scored 6 of these– a number of them ENGs. I understand and appreciate your later point though.

  3. tdrusher225 - Apr 7, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    It may not be the greatest market, or fans, or even team. But you know what? These fans truly do deserve the playoffs! If any group of fans have paid their dues its Islanders fans. The team, the arena, and its fans have been a laughing stock, and now the team is leaving in a few years! I mean if any group of fans deserve this, they do. I’m rooting for you guys!

    • bcisleman - Apr 7, 2013 at 2:31 PM

      Milbury mismanaged them badly for many years. When you have a team that’s poorly run and does not succeed, fans fall away. Last night was proof, as Jimmy Devellano said in his book “The Road to Hockeytown”, that if the Isles start winning again, the fanbase will return.

    • 52nites - Apr 7, 2013 at 8:00 PM

      Leaving? They are only moving 20 miles!

      • tdrusher225 - Apr 7, 2013 at 9:36 PM

        Touché. But you get the idea

  4. ravenscaps48 - Apr 7, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    This would be a SNEAKY good team in the postseason. Just don’t be the 6th Seed ;)

    • bcisleman - Apr 7, 2013 at 2:32 PM

      Actually renewing the Isles-Caps rivalry would be fun. But with your schedule, you will have a tough time beating ot Winnipeg.

      • letsgopens8771 - Apr 7, 2013 at 3:39 PM

        Southeast Division is always up in the air. The Standings change every time Ovechkin takes a dump.

  5. jdrew506 - Apr 7, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    Bcisles I agree with you on your assessment on the team but let’s just be happy they are playing as well they are and someone is talking about it.

    Phillyphanatic. Lol I guess they finally did see my other posts

    Mike although I do respect your backing of PHT and the other writers I do have to disagree that they give the same attention to all markets because clearly they do not. And I respect you even more for actually making comments on the comments others write about your article because none of the others ever do. If you have the nerve to write something for everyone to read at least have the guts to defend it when others comment on your work. I have not seen that from the other writers here so good job.

    • bcisleman - Apr 7, 2013 at 4:43 PM

      Actually if the Isles are to go places in the playoffs, they need the top line to get its mojo back.

  6. jr507 - Apr 7, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    BC- you’re right on point my friend. It’s like a rebirth for Ox and Bailey. So nice to see them finally putting it all together, and defensive intensity/accountability too.

    Also the Hockey pickup has been a huge, low press steal and A-Mac gets better by the night. He and Hammer can play with almost anyone. So long as Nabby stays fresh and JT isn’t hitting a wall (he just looks tired lately IMHO) this is a dangerous young squad.

  7. letsgopens8771 - Apr 7, 2013 at 3:36 PM

    Kudos to the Isles for making a really strong effort for the Playoffs, only time will tell how they finish with all the other teams competing for that 8th spot like NYR, Winnipeg, and New Jersey. However,

    “We want playoffs!” really? See you in the first round, losers, I mean guys. Be careful what you wish for.

    • bcisleman - Apr 7, 2013 at 4:41 PM

      All due respect to NJD fans but their team is dropping like a stone & to make it worse, they do not own the tiebreakers with either the Isles or the NYR. WIN has relatively few games left. Their best shot is the division. Really looking like the Isles and NYR will be jockeying for 7th and 8th–which may come down to the game at the NVMC on 4/13.

      • martysbetter - Apr 7, 2013 at 10:52 PM

        The Devils keep finding ways to lose and will not make the playoffs this year, best of luck to the Isles – I hope they make some noise.

      • bcisleman - Apr 8, 2013 at 7:15 PM

        Thanks. I think w/ ZP gone, the NJD just didn’t have the depth to absorb losing Kovi as they did. Better luck next year. Maybe it’ll be our teams and the NYR will be on the outside looking in. That’d suit me better.

    • jl9830 - Apr 7, 2013 at 9:22 PM

      Ok, bandwagon Penguins fan.

  8. jdrew506 - Apr 7, 2013 at 3:38 PM

    Jr I agree that JT looks alittle tired as of late but I think it’s more because of the holding, cross checking roughing and slashing that cause his sticks to break just about every game rather then him being physically tired.

  9. jdrew506 - Apr 7, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    Letsgipens it should be you who is actually careful what you wish for. As it has been stated before and check your history the penguins have never beaten the Islanders in the playoffs even with your mighty Mario playing. Not saying they won’t this year just giving you the history.

  10. jr507 - Apr 7, 2013 at 3:45 PM

    Jdrew – no doubt that JT’s been taking whacks left and right. Green and Brouwer were hacking like crazy the other day. I’m hoping you’re right.

    BTW – my last post I meant Hickey. stupid auto correct

  11. jdrew506 - Apr 7, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    Lol I hate auto correct, I have the same problems and then get told my grammar and spelling is bad. Then I have some troll playing cowboys and Indians telling me he is going to kill me for not writing in the kings English. Lol last time I checked this was the comments section of a blog not an essay for English class.

  12. sdelmonte - Apr 7, 2013 at 4:33 PM

    Man, I have been waiting for so long for this team to be relevant again. I suspect that with Tavares around, things will be different for the next few years.

    I hope.

  13. jdrew506 - Apr 7, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    Bcisle i agree they need to get their mojo back but if their opponents only focus on that line and the other lines do their job they should be alright. As going far in the playoffs, although that would be great bu not expected just yet. Getting back to the dance and becoming relevant again will help their future greatly.

    • jl9830 - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:00 AM

      You know you can REPLY, right? That way, you won’t have like 5 comments in a row, and the people with whom you are conversing can follow your conversation.

  14. cameltoews - Apr 7, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    I agree with you JDrew the pens and their fans should be very worried about possibly facing NYI or NYR in the playoffs first round. It could very well be a replay of last year. I live on Long Island (although I’m an NYR fan) and its awesome having the buzz of the islanders back. I cannot wait for the game on the 13th. Meaningful hockey between these two clubs is always an awesome game to watch.

  15. adirondack77 - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    Nassau Coliseum is one of the loudest buildings in the NHL when it’s full.

  16. kitshky - Apr 8, 2013 at 3:56 PM

    “My time has come!” – bcisleman

    • bcisleman - Apr 8, 2013 at 7:19 PM

      Actually all Isles fans could say that. Some of us remember Fort Never Lose…so called because back in the day, they never did lose. Those days are returning, thank God!

      • kitshky - Apr 8, 2013 at 7:54 PM

        Love the Isles, I’m in Long Island at least a couple times a year … here’s rooting for em!

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