You would have never known that the New York Islanders were down 2-1 in their best-of-seven series with the Boston Bruins going into Game 4 on Saturday night. Win or lose, their demeanor hadn’t changed.
That has been the Islanders modus operandi for some time now, but it has become even more noticeable in the playoff spotlight they’ve found themselves in for the third year in a row. The Islanders do not panic and they do not get too high when things are going well.
They just go out there and focus on the task at hand, and that has allowed the Islanders to be where they are now.
“I think it’s something that we’ve built here over the past few years,” Adam Pelech said ahead of the Islanders 4-1 Game 4 win over Boston. “Confidence is something that comes from repetition and we’ve been in these spots before. It’s nothing new to us and I think there is a belief in the room and a belief in each other that helps us get through the tough moments however they come.”
While it’s still a tough realization for some that have followed the team, the Islanders core has become a battle-tested group that has plenty of postseason experience. The Islanders have 11 players with more than 45 games of playoff experience under their belt currently on the roster and they’ve certainly been through the highs and lows of a long run in the postseason.
For New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz, what has made the Islanders so steadfast in their resolve no matter the circumstances have been the guys that have stepped into leadership roles. When Trotz first joined the Islanders organization and then-captain John Tavares had left, Trotz found himself having to make what would become one of the biggest decisions for the franchise going forward
“You had to get that right. I think we did,” Trotz said Sunday during the Islanders’ off day. “We did with Anders Lee and guys like Josh Bailey. I didn’t really know any of these guys, but we had to get that right. First talking with those guys, talking to every player, asking them a number of different questions and then making a decision. Everything from the voice in the room to respect in the room to how they play.”
And Trotz added that finding that never say die, calm under pressure attitude comes from making the playoffs to start.
“You have to get some success in the playoffs and we’ve been able to do a little bit of that, so it’s a gradual thing,” Trotz said.
The New York Islanders have seen the good and the bad that the postseason has to offer. They’ve won games where they’ve outplayed their opponent, they lost some tough games and they’ve stolen a few wins as well.
From all of that, what has been the biggest lesson the Islanders have learned? Cal Clutterbuck was hardpressed to come up with just one.
“There’s a lot of lessons you can’t point to one thing. It all amounts to experience, which is a cliche,” Clutterbuck said. “I can talk a half an hour about the lessons we’ve learned and I’ve learned and guys have learned, but it’s just living through it with the players that you’ve lived through it with. The core has been the same for a while and when you live through these experiences together you see what each other is made of.
“People can relate to intense experiences they’ve had with a group of people. You build a special bond with those people and whatever it is you’ve got a connection to those people for a long time.”