Thirteen Islanders made their playoff debuts in this series, including Josh Bailey, Travis Hamonic, Matt Martin, Andrew MacDonald (who will miss the next 6-to-8 weeks after undergoing surgery for a broken hand after being struck by a puck in Game 4), Matt Moulson, Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo and John Tavares.
“I think they’ve embraced it,” head coach Jack Capuano said after the Islanders’ morning skate at the Coliseum Saturday. “They’ve embraced it.
“We’re trying to win a Stanley Cup. It’s everybody’s goal at the start of the year to try to hoist the Cup. That’s our goal. We’re up [against] a good team. We know that. But if we play our game, we feel we have a chance.”
More praise for Tavares
Tavares’s strong regular season has earned the franchise bedrock critical praise.
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The NHL announced Friday that Tavares, Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby and Washington left wing Alex Ovechkin were the finalists for the Hart Trophy. The voting was done by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. Should Tavares win the Hart, he would join Bryan Trottier in 1979 as the only Islanders to earn the award.
Tavares finished the truncated regular season with 28 goals, 19 assists and 47 points in 48 games. The 28 goals were third most in the NHL.
“I probably wouldn’t be standing up here [Saturday morning] talking to you guys [in the media] if we didn’t have the performance of John Tavares and the way he’s played for us,” Capuano said. “He’s a big reason why we’re here.”
Crosby, Ovechkin and Tampa Bay right wing Martin St. Louis were named as finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award on Thursday. The Ted Lindsay Award is awarded to the most outstanding player as voted on by other players. Both the Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Awards will be presented during the Stanley Cup final.
“It’s a well-deserved honor for a guy who works that hard,” Capuano said.
WFAN carried WHRU’s broadcast of Saturday night’s game, in a joint statement released by the all-sports radio station and the Islanders Friday.
“The New York Islanders are an incredible story this year,” WFAN and CBS Radio New York Vice President of Programming Mark Chernoff said in the statement. “Led by their Hart Trophy finalist John Tavares, this team has all of New York excited about the Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’re excited to team with the Islanders and Hofstra University, 88.7 WRHU, to broadcast such a crucial game.”
Saturday night marked the second time in as many games an all-sports station picked up WRHU’s broadcast of an Islanders playoff game. ESPN New York 98.7 carried WRHU’s broadcast of the 4-0 loss in Game 5.
Follow NHL beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.