Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Mental Game

Anyone who knows me knows I'm not into the technical aspects of hockey. It's not that I wouldn't love to fully understand that facet of the game, I'm willing to learn. It's just that I never played ice hockey and have more of a fan's perspective than one of a participant.

Taking it even a step farther, I have trouble even watching the postseason games. With more on the line, I get too nervous and am prone to outbursts of violence. :)

That said, here are a few points to possibly help the Islanders win their first playoff series in twenty years:

  • Going into the series with the Pittsburgh Penguins, I felt there would be one game where the Islanders would be blown out. As it turns out, that game was Game 1. The Islanders rebounded nicely in Game two, evening the series with a 4-3 win. This guy had something to do with it. Now level again, the initial 'punch in the mouth' is behind them.
  • Continuing with that line of thinking, the Islanders find themselves in an even series and they haven't even played their best game yet. Game 1 was a mess; the follow up started off terribly as well but the Isles luckily found their legs before they were buried. A flukey goal (we'll take them) won the game for New York.
  • The Isles need to draw inspiration from last year's Los Angeles Kings. Sure, they may be an eighth seed, but great things happened for last year's (Western) eight. This is the NHL. 'Eights' beat 'ones.'
  • The Islanders need to feed off their crowd. Sunday will feature Uniondale's first postseason game in six years. The fans are ready. They're actually more than ready. An opening goal for the home side within the first ten minutes of game would likely bring the arena down.
  • A key to victory will be to do what worked during the regular season. At the risk of getting "technical," they need to stay strong on the puck and fire shots at the Pittsburgh netminder. We don't yet know if they'll be facing Marc-AndrĂ© Fleury or Tomas Vokoun. Either way, the Islanders need to keep that man seeing rubber all afternoon.
  • The hard part is over. The Islanders somehow, almost inexplicably, earned a split on road ice. They control home ice right now. Don't give it up.
  • Finally, to each player, just play your game. You functioned as a team to reach this point. Continue to play that way. Josh Bailey has looked like a changed man. Evegeni Nabokov has done all that has been asked of him. The secondary scorers have scored.
Remember, the Pittsburgh roster has lots of talent, but they're not invincible. Of course, it's still a tall task to win the series, but it can be done.

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