The first round of the 2013 NHL playoffs are in the books, eight teams have been sent packing to hit the links while eight teams remain to square off in the conference semi-finals. (Photo Credit: Torch Creative)
The first round did not disappoint hockey fans who have come to expect physical, fast, dramatic hockey in the playoffs and year after year they are not disappointed.
One year after the Los Angeles Kings became the first eight seed ever to win the Stanley Cup both seven seeds and both six have managed to advance to the semi-finals. The Eastern Conference Semi-final match-ups pit the Pittsburgh Penguins (1) against the Ottawa Senators (7) and the Boston Bruins (4) face off with the New York Rangers (6), while the Western Conference will feature the Chicago Blackhawks (1) who will try to hold off the Detroit Redwings (7) and the defending champion Los Angeles Kings (5) will face their fellow Californians, the San Jose Sharks (6).
The New York Islanders lost 4-3 in overtime last night to the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins, thus ending their run in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Penguins took the series in six games, winning the last battle on Coliseum ice in front of a sold out crowd of Islanders fans that continued to give their home team a standing ovation despite being eliminated.
"It's exciting to play in a building like this. It's a lot of fun. In my opinion, we're probably the loudest arena in the league now," said Matt Martin after the game.
"The fans were unbelievable through the end of the season there in the last five home games and all through the playoffs. They were a big factor in the way we played at home down the stretch. It makes a huge difference for us. People don't realize it but it gives you a little extra boost, a little extra energy when the crowd goes nuts like that. You definitely want to do something exciting."
For the first time in a long time, an Islanders skater has been nominated for the NHL's Hart Memorial Trophy, which is annually awarded to the league's most valuable player (Photo credit: theseoduke/Flickr).
Tavares joins Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby and Washington Capitals forward Alexander Ovechkin. Crosby missed the last 12 games of the regular season after suffering a broken jaw, ironically during a game against the New York Islanders. However, he still managed to finish fourth in the league with 56 points.
Ovechkin surprisingly started off the year incredibly slow, but then took fire towards the end of the season, ending 2013 third in the league in points. He is cited as the main reason for why the Capitals were able to clinch their division just before the start of the playoffs.
The New York Islanders were hosting a playoff game on Nassau Coliseum ice for the first time in six years in front of a sold out crowd that was salivating for the puck to finally drop. Unfortunately for the Isles, they fell to the Penguins in overtime by a score of 5-4 on a power play goal that came from forward Chris Kunitz just 8:44 into the extra frame.
Special teams would ultimately play the deciding factor in the game, as the Islanders penalty kill only went 2-5, surrendering two additional power play goals in the first period that allowed the Penguins to get into the hockey game.
The Isles came out of the gates with energy and intensity, racking up hits, shots and goals immediately. Within the first two minutes of the game, Matt Moulson would slam home a rebound after Kyle Okposo would get the first few initial chances. Lubomir Visnovsky would be credited with the second assist.
The Flyers found out where they will pick in the 2013 Amateur Draft in June.
Not moving anywhere up or down in the draft order, the Flyers earned the 11th pick in the draft. The draft will take place on June 30 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.
The only big upset of the draft lottery was the Colorado Avalanche taking the number one pick from the Florida Panthers, who had the worst record and the best odds in the NHL. Florida was at a 25% chance of winning the lottery while the Avs had an 18.5% chance of winning.
The Flyers may not be getting their hands on Seth Jones, Jonathan Drouin or Nathan MacKinnon but they can certainly find some talent at the 11 spot.
A lot of people are discussing what position the Flyers will pick and the general consensus has them looking to sure up the blue line. Here are five defensemen to look for at that point of the draft:
This is the first time in five years that the Flyers are on the outside looking in. Pretty unfamiliar position for us Flyers writers as well. On the other hand, this is pretty interesting. There are now 16 teams to choose from to get behind and root for these next two months. The TCL Flyers staff will fill you in on those 16 teams and tell you why you should pick them.
The New York Islanders fell to the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center Friday night in a shootout after getting a late goal to tie the game in the third period. From the opening faceoff, the Isles lacked the energy to compete with a Sabres team bent on playing spoiler.
Despite the loss, the Isles moved up from eighth to sixth in the Eastern Conference, pending the results of the final game for the New York Rangers and the final two games for the Ottawa Senators.
The New York Islanders assigned goaltender Rick DiPietro to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on February 23rd, 2013. At that time, the Isles were 7-9-1 and appearing as a team that could miss the playoffs once again in another frustrating season (Photo credit: xjowell/Flickr).
Since DP's demotion, the Islanders have gone 17-7-5 due largely in part to a near flawless month of April (8-0-3). Leading the charge between the pipes has been Evgeni Nabokov, who boasts a 23-11-6 record that holds three shutouts - one coming in a 4-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres the night DiPietro was sent to Bridgeport.
Many teams that make the post-season have a player on their roster that elevates his style of play in order to reach a new level of performance during the most meaningful games of the year in the playoffs. These players are instrumental to each team's success in the playoffs and help carry their teams to several victories in their run for the Cup.
Looking back to the recent past, players such as Fernando Pisani and Sean Bergenheim come to mind. Pisani, who was playing for the Edmonton Oilers during their Cup run in 2006, only had 37 points in 80 regular season games but burst onto the playoff scene with 14 goals and 18 points in 24 playoff games.
It was only three years ago that John Tavares scored 24 goals in 82 games in his rookie season for the New York Islanders. He finished the year with 54 points and gave Isles fans confirmation that they were witnessing a star starting to bloom in an orange and blue jersey (Photo credit: theseoduke/Flickr).
Here we are in his fourth NHL season and Tavares just might have already surpassed every Islanders' fans wildest dreams.