Tuesday (4/23) night was the night I have waited over six years for. No, let me correct that. It was the night that we, Islanders fans, have waited for. We've waited through six seasons of misery, injuries, bad breaks, bad bounces, bad luck, and draft lotteries.
But the wait is over. The New York Islanders are back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs!
Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, John Tavares, Matt Moulson, Frans Nielsen, and so many others will get their first tastes of the National Hockey League postseason.
But as excited and pleased as I am for them, I'm even happier for the fans that have been with them through the rebuild.
I'm happy for the folks in Loudville section. I'm happy for the college kids who routinely sit in the top few rows of Nassau Coliseum with an obstructed view of the scoreboard. I'm happy for the season ticket holders who held on to their seats, knowing that better days would return for Long Island's hockey team.
I'm even pleased for the doubters, naysayers, and bandwagon jumpers who have watched this team grow into a (hopefully) legitimate title contender in the coming seasons.
I feel somewhat vindicated as well, because just as things were getting ugliest for Kyle Okposo this year, he and his linemates powered the Isles to a 11-1-3 record in their last 15 games, seemingly growing into legitimate scoring force in unison.
In the month of April, Kyle has recorded 10 points. While he had a subpar season, he salvaged it in the last two weeks, feeding beautiful passes to Nielsen and Bailey in big spot after big spot. He stopped turning the puck over. He played a true power forward position. And his line added a scoring compliment the first line.
He stepped up when he was called upon. All three players did.
Even last night, down a goal to Carolina with time dwindling in the game, he found a way to get to the net and help the team secure a massive point in the standings (the tying goal was eventually reviewed and credited to Tavares).
Though his final scoring totals won't be flashy, if you prorate his assist total over a full 82-game NHL season, he would have set a career high (approximately 36).
But in a game filled with numbers, there's only one that matters right now: 0. That's the "magic number" of points needed for the New York Islanders to clinch a playoff spot.
Congratulations, everyone. See you in the playoffs! (Damn, that sounds good, huh?)