For Islanders, climbing the playoff mountain is one step at a time

The Islanders are staring up at the playoff mountain again.

Sixteen victories will get them to the Stanley Cup peak they haven’t attained because 1983, but the Islanders can not appear that considerably in the length. Suitable now, they just can’t glance past Match 1 of their first-round sequence against the Penguins on Sunday afternoon at PPG Paints Arena.

“A ton of groups who finish up profitable a Stanley Cup go by means of experiences that will benefit them transferring forward,” Cal Clutterbuck claimed. “You never generally climb the mountain the first time. You’ve bought to learn your lessons. And we have been finding out our classes and, ideally, this year the practical experience will come in and we can use individuals encounters in conditions all through this operate and, ideally, they profit us.”

Last period, the Islanders arrived at the Eastern Meeting finals for the initially time considering that 1993 ahead of bowing to the eventual Cup champion Lightning in six online games. They swept the Penguins in 2019 — Barry Trotz’s 1st period as Islanders mentor — in the very first round right before staying swept by the Hurricanes.

The Penguins even now have the remnants of the core that led them to Cups in 2016 and 2017 in Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, defensemen Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin and mentor Mike Sullivan. They defeat the Islanders in 6 of their eight game titles in the shortened regular season.

That helped the Penguins complete 1st in the East Division when the Islanders were being fourth.

“We have found them a ton the very last several a long time,” defenseman Ryan Pulock claimed. “We experienced the playoffs versus them a couple of decades ago. We’re heading to put together our game. We’re having ready to go to war and I’m absolutely sure they are undertaking the exact same point. I feel it’s heading to be a pleasurable series. We’ve bought to do a fantastic work from their best-close skill. We like to be a actual physical workforce and we’re heading to have to check out to use that to our benefit.”

The initially two rounds of these playoffs — revamped to lessen travel throughout the COVID-19 pandemic — will be played inside of the division prior to the 4 survivors are reseeded for the NHL semifinals and Cup Ultimate, which will end in July.

But, all over again, the Islanders are not staring too significantly up the mountain.

Trotz has pressured to his players that he would like them to get pleasure from this playoff journey. Final season was undoubtedly memorable presented the one of a kind playoff bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton without the need of fans in the arenas.

Pittsburgh is set to host at 50% of capability starting up with Tuesday night’s Sport 2 even though roughly 6,800 fans will be at Nassau Coliseum starting off with Thursday night’s Game 3.

“You can hardly try to remember some of the normal season video games,” Trotz reported. “You’ll most likely try to remember much more the matters that you did with the guys on the road than the true game titles. But playoffs, you recall the games. You keep in mind people moments, all those overtime wins, those massive aims, the group, the emotion. You get marked up in a playoffs collection and you don’t truly feel the pain.”

“I imagine playoffs are all about making new activities, new recollections and going out there and chasing it down,” Clutterbuck explained.

Trotz stated the expertise of the playoff operates the past two seasons can only enable. The lesson figured out was if the Islanders enjoy the way they want — sound defensively with a really hard-edged physicality and 4-line stability attacking the crease — they can compete in all circumstances.

“It’s just beneficial reinforcement,” Trotz explained. “It gives you the assurance that you know you can do it. It provides you confidence that you know it functions. But every year is a distinct obstacle.”

That steep playoff mountain looms tall.