Scott Mayfield was feeling down after how Game 6 ended, but he more than turned things around with an impressive final game of the New York Islanders series with the Philadelphia Flyers.
The defenseman, whose broken stick led to Ivan Provorov’s game-winning tally Thursday night, got the Islanders on the board 9:27 into Game 7. His early strike helped the Islanders to a 4-0 series-clinching win over the Flyers.
With tired bodies on the ice in double overtime of Game 6, Devon Toews fed Mayfield at the right point. And as Mayfield attempted to pass the puck down to Mathew Barzal, his stick snapped and led directly to the rush and goal that ended the game.
But in Game 7, as the Islanders cycled the puck low to high to the point, Toews again made a pass to Mayfield on the right side.
— Andrew Battifarano (@AndrewAtBatt) September 5, 2020
This time, though, the right-handed Mayfield waited patiently for Anders Lee and Barzal to crash the net before rifling a shot from the faceoff dot. He picked the top left corner and Flyers goalie Carter Hart had no chance. Mayfield came into the night with four points in the playoffs but his biggest yet came via his first-ever playoff goal to help set the tone in a dominating shutout victory.
With a couple of laughs after the game, Mayfield said it would’ve been hard to predict him scoring the decisive goal in the clincher, but he was happy it happened.
“I was kind of down the last couple of days after breaking my stick there in overtime, so it’s a confidence boost,” Mayfield told reporters after the game. “Game-winner, Game 7 to go into the Eastern Conference Final, I don’t think anyone would think I’d be scoring it. But, I had a lane and I was happy I could put it away.”
Andy Greene added the team’s second goal of the first period, as the Islanders not only held the lead but kept the edge in shots 10-6 after one period. In his 26th playoff game, Mayfield aided the Islanders with his goal and his veteran presence on defense.
“I think it’s all learning, I think we’ve got some young guys on the team that haven’t been in certain situations,” Mayfield said. “I don’t think there’s too many guys (here) that have played a ton of Game 7s. It’s a special opportunity and we learn from it. The overtime losses I think hurt a little bit. It’s nice we came out flying and got the win today.”
Scott Mayfield played a complete game, registering two blocks and three hits. Yes there were two giveaways, but the defenseman more than made up for it. The 27-year-old and the rest of the defense clamped down to help the Islanders hold the Flyers to just 16 shots on goal for the entire game. And, according to Natural Stat Trick, Mayfield had three high danger chances. It was emblematic of the way the Islanders controlled the game from start to finish.
This came on the heels of an effort in which New York held Philadelphia to 31 shots over five-and-a-half periods of hockey in Game 6. Even after logging over 30 minutes Thursday, Mayfield came back Saturday and put in 20:17 of ice time. That includes 3:00 of time on the penalty kill, where he kept the Islanders at a perfect 2-for-2.
It’s been over five years since Scott Mayfield made his playoff and NHL debut, when he filled in at the blue line in Game 6 against the Washington Capitals in 2015. This isn’t his first rodeo in the playoffs, so Mayfield said he is able to keep calm in pressure situations. This time, it helped the Islanders advance to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time in 27 years.
“I think when it comes down to it it’s just another hockey game,” he said. “It’s hard to say that, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t super nervous before the game. Once you hit the ice, you go through warmups, you kinda just get in the groove, you have your process. In the end, it’s just another hockey game.”
Full team 𝐞𝐟𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐭.
Full team 𝐰𝐢𝐧.
Full team 𝐜𝐞𝐥𝐞𝐛𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧. pic.twitter.com/wGB3ha7XsG
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) September 6, 2020
Despite giving up nine goals over the previous two games, the Islanders kept the Flyers off the board, to bookend the series with shutouts.
It was a strong finish heading into Monday’s Game 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“I think we know how we want to play,” Mayfield said. “I think when we’re moving north, getting the puck in, being physical on the forecheck, not playing slow. We have a fast team, so playing fast. We have our identity, and that’s what we try to get to every game.
“It’s nice that we got that that identity pretty much right off the bat tonight and played a full 60 (minutes).”
A Look at What Ryan Pulock’s New Contract Might be with Islanders | NYHN+
Former New York Islanders defenseman and restricted free agent Devon Toews received his payday on Tuesday, and soon Ryan Pulock will be looking for his.
The 26-year-old defenseman is also an RFA and remains unsigned by the Isles. Pulock elected to file for arbitration and is scheduled for a hearing on Nov. 6. The Islanders would like to have his contract handled before that date, but Pulock is due for a major raise from his previous two-year, $4 million bridge deal he signed in 2018.
Pulock has become a top-pairing defenseman for the Islanders, who logged an average of 22:24 of ice time per game this past season. It was the second consecutive year that Pulock has averaged more than 20 minutes a game and he is constantly up against the opposing team’s top players.
It’s Time: Free Josh Ho-Sang or Move On
Enough, already. The New York Islanders and GM Lou Lamoriello have made their point. It’s time to free Josh Ho-Sang. Play him in the NHL or let the young man pursue opportunities elsewhere.
Tuesday, the Islanders avoided arbitration with Ho-Sang and signed him to a $700,000 NHL contract, or $225,000 in the minors.
It’s been a long fall for the 2014 first-round pick (28th overall).
My hockey career has been as varied as it has been enjoyable. From a syndicated radio show in the friendly confines of the NHL’s largest fanbase to Pittsburgh, then to the minors, back to Pittsburgh, and eventually creating National Hockey Now.
After 20 years, I’ve seen almost every situation.
I’ve had dinner with players who were supposedly bad apples or struggling to adopt the NHL way. They are rarely the people reflected in the public portrayals. Usually, it’s a misunderstanding.
I’ve met young men being drafted and wanting nothing else for their life but to light the lamp in the greatest hockey league in the world.
After their big day, I’ve sat with those same players on long bus rides and in locker rooms. I’ve heard their frustration as organizations heap tough love with a shovel, usually because the player doesn’t adequately cover their own zone or don’t get their nose dirty enough.
Or doesn’t bear the tough love with a smile and a gee golly acceptance.
In his first 43 NHL games, Ho-Sang had six goals and 16 assists, which is .5 points per game. There are a lot of NHL players who cannot boast such totals. And Ho-Sang has more to give.
Despite his initial choice of numbers (No. 66), for which I will forever associate with mine and Ho-Sang’s childhood hockey hero, Mario Lemieux, I root for him to break the stranglehold the New York Islanders have placed upon his career.
Conform or else!
For some players, the answer is “or else,” not because they’re misanthropic or contrarian, but because they know they can help in other ways, and what is asked of them is as foreign as the Chinese alphabet.
Ahem, Phil Kessel. You may have heard from your Pittsburgh Penguins friends that Phil has two Stanley Cup rings?
Until Kessel and his coaches clashed, Kessel enjoyed a rebirth because someone appreciated him and let him be him. The situation eventually soured, because Kessel is a bit of a contrarian, but would either side trade those Cups?
Ho-Sang’s story is, unfortunately, not uncommon. I’ve sat at Denny’s on a Sunday morning after long bus trips and looked at players whose heart weighed 20 pounds because all they want is to play in the NHL, and they don’t truly understand why they’re banished to the minors.
They bounce to the minors, exiled from their dreams until they conform to the visions of an NHL coach or GM who demand something different than they’ve ever been.
It’s the equivalent of those snotty couples on HGTV who “love” the home they’re viewing until the wife invariably lists two dozen changes and hundreds of thousands of dollars of upgrades. You want to scream, “Don’t buy the house!”
But I can turn the channel, hopeful that I’ll never again be in such a situation.
The New York Islanders bought Josh Ho-Sang, full well knowing they were getting a skilled player with rough edges. Did they think they could miraculously make him someone else?
One player you may remember (but I won’t name), who later became a bit notorious, looked at me over his stack of eggs and pancakes in a tiny ECHL city, shook his head, and muttered a few expletives. You don’t need direct quotes to get the gist.
He bounced around the minors for a couple of years, finally got his shot in the NHL in his mid-20s, punched a few opponents hard enough to get a new contract, and performed well enough to stick around for a few years before cashing in across the pond.
But he never lost that bitterness. It changed his career because his drafting team wanted him to be someone else, and they felt they needed to send him a message.
Three other members of that team were also high-round picks. They too were sent to the minors to receive their tough love.
One soon after bolted to Russia. Another succumbed to personal demons and another exclaimed something similar to, “Take this job and shove it.”
That NHL team sure proved its point, didn’t it?
I’ve met Josh Ho-Sang and players like him. I gravitate towards them because I feel a kinship with fighting the establishment.
The National Hockey Now family, including this coverage outlet, is the birth of raging against an obtuse machine, which didn’t understand the changing world and the wide range of additional skills available to it.
Ho-Sang’s game is clearly changing and not for the better. Years of being told he must change have taken a toll. He’s no longer the strident kid who knew he could play in the NHL. He scored only two points (1g, 1a) in his most recent 10-game stint in 2018-19.
Last season, he was even banished from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers while Lamoriello allowed his camp to facilitate a trade. Eventually, Chris Lamoriello played peacemaker and Ho-Sang was loaned to San Antonio.
Wouldn’t you have a salty ‘tude if you were trapped by a team which neither likes nor releases you?
At 24-years-old, Ho-Sang is no longer a “prospect.” He had 13 points (4g, 9a) in just 22 games split between Bridgeport and San Antonio of the AHL last season.
Trust me, the NHL conformity standards are brutal. In hockey circles, it’s OK to break a player until they conform. It’s time for that to end.
The young man of color already has a harder road than most, just to get to the NHL. It doesn’t need to be any harder. The New York Islanders should finally decide. They can promote the best of Ho-Sang and let coach Barry Trotz work with the worst, or they can punish him for the worst and live without the best.
Either way, whether it’s NHL ice, or free agency, it’s time. For Josh Ho-Sang and for the New York Islanders. #FreeJoshHoSang
He’s Back! Josh Ho-Sang Returns to Islanders on 1-Year Deal
If you thought Josh Ho-Sang’s time with the New York Islanders was over, guess again.
The Islanders and Josh Ho-Sang came to terms on a 1-year contract extension on Tuesday and avoided an arbitration hearing which had been scheduled for Friday. The short-term deal is worth $700,000 if he plays in the NHL and $200,000 if he ends up in Bridgeport, according to Elliotte Friedman who first reported the news on Tuesday morning.
Ho-Sang has had a rocky history with the Islanders since the organization drafted him 29th overall in 2014. The now 24-year-old forward has struggled to crack the Islanders lineup and his outspoken nature has often caused himself headaches.
Josh Ho-Sang requested a trade last season and was told by Islanders general manager not to report to AHL Bridgeport while they worked to find a place to send him. The naturally skilled forward did end up reporting to Bridgeport after the Islanders failed to move him and they eventually loaned Ho-Sang to St. Louis’ AHL team in San Antonio.
Ho-Sang has appeared in 53 NHL games with the Islanders and registered seven goals and 17 assists in that span.
Both the Islanders decision to send Ho-Sang a qualifying offer and then Ho-Sang’s decision to file for arbitration surprised many people. Lamoriello sounded perplexed several weeks ago when he was asked about it during a media conference call on Zoom.
“I’m sure you’re all aware that he filed for arbitration, which I was very surprised at,” Lamoriello said at the time. “We’ll have to see what the future brings.”
It’s unclear what role the Islanders envision for Ho-Sang going into next season.
In addition, the Islanders also announced that A.J. Greer had signed a one-year contract as well. Greer was acquired from the Colorado Avalanche in a trade that saw the Islanders send Kyle Burroughs to the Mile High City.
Greer had been a restricted free agent.
Fellow RFA defensemen Mitch Vande Sompel and Parker Wotherspoon signed two-year contract extensions on Tuesday as well.