For so long, a generation of New York Islanders fans had been subjected to hearing stories about the glory days.
1975. The dynasty. The Easter Epic. The upset of the Penguins in 1993.
Those stories are always great and they never get old. But after awhile, you begin to question: When are we going to get some new memories that will be telling our kids and grandkids about?
Well, that time — long overdue I might add — has finally arrived.
Last night, the Isles advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in 27 years, defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-0 in game seven of their second-round playoff series. And with it, they gave entire new generation of this fan base a memory that will stick with them forever.
“We didn’t get small by the moment, we got big by the moment,” Barry Trotz said after the win. “It was a big moment Game 7 and we got big.”
The Islanders put on a clinic from the moment the puck dropped. They looked as if they were playing on a completely different level as opposed to the Flyers. Even Thomas Greiss — who got the nod to start in goal over Semyon Varlamov — said the Isles’ play was “the best defensive game I’ve ever seen a team play”.
— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@TheReplayGuy) September 6, 2020
Take Greiss’ words and just imagine what it had to be like watching as a fan, especially after significant playoff victories have been few and far in between for this generation of Islander supporters.
You have to remember, David Volek’s OT winner past Tom Barrasso was almost three decades ago. Everything else after that never measured to anything.
That vicious, incredible seven-game series from 2002 against the Toronto Maple Leafs? They lost. The series against Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Buffalo? All in defeat. 2013 against Pittsburgh and 2015 versus Washington? Lost.
The last four years have been somewhat better with three Semifinal appearances, but they didn’t hold the weight of what last night did.
“You have to celebrate the moments because those moments don’t come by very much and I don’t mean go crazy or anything, but I think you recognize and understand that you took another step,” Trotz added. “There’s a bit of a celebration, but we understand that we’re halfway. Obviously by winning an extra round it seems like the journey is a little longer for us being in the play-in round and that was a playoff series.“
Islanders fans deserve to celebrate too. They’ve been put through the ringer for years and have continued to be as loyal and passionate a bunch as you’ll find in the NHL. And for many, a game like last night makes going through all the lean years and nonsense worth it in the long run. The journey though, isn’t over yet.
“It’s special, obviously the end goal is still out there, but it’s still a big day and a big win for us,” said Brock Nelson, who put the game out of reach with his goal just past the midpoint of the second period. “Guys work their whole life to get this opportunity and get this far and advance on and win a Stanley Cup. The fanbase is passionate and always talks about the wins back in the 1980s and the teams and guys who won Cups. You can see how much it means to them, the community. Those guys are heroes. Everyone in the room now is striving to be a part of some history like that and write our own little chapter.”
The Isles run in the bubble has been memorable from the get-go, this series notwithstanding after they had two chances to close out Philadelphia earlier this week. But now it’s on to the Conference Final and a date with the Tampa Bay Lightning and a chance to play for the Stanley Cup within reach. It’s also a chance for more possible memories to be made.
The talk of the glory days will still be around, but the Islanders are finally creating new moments for a generation who longed for their own.
Last night was one, hopefully with more to come soon.