July 21, 2024

“Special” Islanders designed for the grind of the NHL playoffs.

These Islanders built for the NHL playoff grind

These Islanders remind me a lot of the Maple Leafs of the 1960s. Well, aside from those four Stanley Cups in a span of six years. Until now, that is, wink, wink.

Not only were those Toronto teams designed for the postseason, but they also performed better there than they did during the regular season. Their distinct slow-down, tight-checking strategy for the 70-game regular season helped them prepare for the playoffs perfectly; they were only a top seed once in their four championship seasons.

And so it is on the Island, where the precepts of both executive-in-chief Lou Lamoriello and head coach Barry Trotz do not bend to serve the flavor of the day. From Day 1, it’s all about grinding, being responsible without the puck and taking hits to make plays. It is about playing a demanding style under which a straight line is the shortest distance taken between two points.

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