May 1, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) skates on the ice before playing the Pittsburgh Penguins in game one of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs at CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t Underestimate the New York Islanders in Round 1

When the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs were announced earlier this past week, there were lots of jokes being made about the New York Islanders and their matchup with the Pittsburgh Penguins. No analysts or experts are giving the New York Islanders a chance to win this series; however, I believe they are wrong. Despite the absence of Sidney Crosby (at least for the beginning of the series), there are many reasons to why I think the New York Islanders can potentially pull off one of the biggest upsets in Stanley Cup Playoff history.

The first advantage that the New York Islanders have is their dynamic power play unit. The trio of John Tavares, Matt Moulson and Brad Boyes were unstoppable in the regular season, ranking 5th in the league. Not to mention Mark Streit and Frans Nielson to add to that unit. Game after game the Islanders power play would be the difference maker in close games. If the Islanders get their chance on the PP they will have to capitalize on most of their opportunities to give themselves a chance to upset the Penguins.

Another reason that you must not overlook this series as an easy one for the Pens, is because of the presence of Evgeni Nabokov. Since leaving the Sharks in 2009-2010, Nabokov has not appeared in the playoffs. However, he does have a career GAA of 2.29 and save percentage of .913 in the playoffs, Nabokov must steal this series for the Islanders. He did it in the past with the Sharks, so I have every reason to believe that Nabokov can steal another series.

Finally if you look at different sports teams in the past that were filled with all stars, it hasn’t fared too well. I know these are two totally different sports, but take a look at the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles. The “dream team” as they were tagged, turned out having one of the most disappointing seasons in NFL history. After seeing what the Penguins did throughout the year, the first thing that came into my mind was the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles. Can a team with this many all stars come together to win a championship?

It will be interesting to see whether the Islanders can pull off this major upset. Nobody in the hockey world has given the Islanders a chance to win. I’m not saying the New York Islanders will win the series, but don’t be surprised if they can keep it close, and potentially upset the Penguins.

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