A team’s energy will normally dictate the way a team plays, and that has held true for the New York Islanders through the first two games of their second round series with the Boston Bruins.
The Islanders felt lifeless in game one, despite scoring the game’s first goal. The Bruins would tie the game at the end of the first period and end up outshooting the Isles 18-8 in the period. The rest of the game was all Bruins who outshot the blue and orange 40-22 in the game.
Coming into the series, it has seemed like the hockey world was ready to write off these Isles, especially the city of Boston, but after game one, even some Islanders fans had the gloomy feeling.
Just 48 hours later, the Islanders are heading back to Long Island with a 1-1 series and a very impressive performance. Two big changes were the reason for the team’s success, the first was a nod of confidence to this season’s No. 1 goaltender Semyon Varlamov. Varlamov looked like the Vezina-worthy netminder he was in the regular season, turning away 39 of the Bruins’ 42 shots, including a dandy on Taylor Hall just before Casey Cizikas’ game-winner in overtime. The second change was the overall energy from the entire team. It’s not to say in game one the Islanders didn’t show effort, but they didn’t challenge Boston much when they began to flex their muscles and dictate the pace.
YOU WANT A BENCH CELLY?— x – New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) June 1, 2021
YOU GET A BENCH CELLY. pic.twitter.com/qoQzkuiyZf
So yes, Monday’s game felt like a completely different team compared to game one. The confidence was back in how the Islanders played. The offense was buzzing, the forecheck was creating offense and causing turnovers, and Cizikas played the hero with the winning goal in overtime and they made it hard on the Bruins from the get-go. Even Mathew Barzal looked like he had an extra step, showing up all over the ice with linemates Leo Komarov and Jordan Eberle. Barzal had a number of chances to finally get his first goal of the playoffs, but couldn’t find paydirt.
THE OT WINNER FROM CASEY CIZIKAS pic.twitter.com/gGhhuREskz— x – New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) June 1, 2021
“For the most part, we were the better team tonight and we found a way to get it done,” Kyle Palmieri said in a postgame interview. “That’s all that matters.”
Now the Isles are heading back to Nassau Coliseum for games three and four, where they can expect some more shots of energy from a recharged fanbase after game two. “It’s going to be exciting,” Cizikas also added after the win. “We know how that barn rocks and we’re going to build off it.”
The rest of the series is still going to be an uphill battle for the Islanders, but the Islanders should receive some help from their fans as they look ahead to the next couple of games.
Follow Ben on Twitter at @BenMandell55