As the New York Islanders wait for the result of the series between the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes, the Islanders are paying close attention to both teams as a potential second round matchup.
Islanders’ head coach Barry Trotz won the Stanley Cup with the Capitals last season, creating a great story heading into this series before the first puck is dropped. Beyond that headline, Trotz obviously has some inside knowledge of the Capitals.
The Capitals have virtually the same team. I know all that background with that group of guys, and I’m always going to have a very special bond with them because we climbed the mountain together.Barry Trotz on the Washington Capitals | New York Post
The big story out of Washington is that T.J. Oshie is out indefinitely after he was pushed into the boards from behind by Hurricanes forward Warren Foegele in the third period of Game 4 on Thursday. A nearly a point per game player the last three postseasons with the Capitals, the loss of Oshie is enormous. The Capitals will try to recapture the magic with Devante Smith-Pelly, who was recalled ahead of Game 5 in Washington and adds a physical element to their lineup.
Michal Kempny, a top-four defenseman for the Capitals, tore his hamstring late in the regular season and has been ruled out for the entirety of the playoffs.
This doesn’t mean the Capitals won’t be a tough opponent in the second round, but they currently have two major pieces missing that could make things a little easier for the Islanders. With or without Oshie, the Capitals are a tested team who have four lines that can play. Their power play can also take over a series.
The Islanders and Capitals split the season series, but it wasn’t a clean affair. In the games the Capitals won, the Islanders were only able to score one goal. When the Islanders won, they shut out the Capitals
Let’s not make any mistake, if the Hurricanes make it to the second round, it speaks volumes about this team’s abilities. The Islanders’ coaching staff doesn’t have the same knowledge of the Hurricanes as they do the Capitals, which means they’ll be watching the remainder of their series closely.
I’m watching Carolina, who I don’t know quite as well. We’re preparing for both. It’s double the work, but I think it’s actually a good exercise. It keeps you sharp on both sides.Barry Trotz on preparing for the second round | New York Post
The Hurricanes have been able to remain relatively healthy in the first round outside of rookie Andrei Svechnikov going down with a concussion after a fight with Alex Ovechkin. Svechnikov hopes to play in Game 6 on Monday. Jordan Martinook also went down with an injury in Game 4 and did not play in Game 5.
The Hurricanes have continued to be successful with their shot suppression and high shot rate. They have also been able to fight back during the second half of hockey games so far in the playoffs.
The Islanders won the season seasons three to one. In each of the Islanders’ victories, they only allowed one goal. The loss, their last matchup back on Jan. 8, was a one-goal game.
The Islanders have proven that they’re for real, but whether they play the Capitals or Hurricanes in the second round, New York will have their hands full. In the meantime, the Islanders have plenty of homework to do.
Jon Zella is a 30-year-old Long Island native currently living in Syracuse, NY. Outside of hockey, he enjoys motorcycles, beer, coffee, and his dog Olive.