A Sweep No One is Talking About in the NHL

Patrick Brown
April 22, 2019 - 2:00 pm
The 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs haven't been short of surprising stories. The Flames, number one overall team in the West, lost after five games to the Avalanche. The Lightning, number one overall team in the NHL, are out after a clean sweep at the hands of Blue Jackets. However, one sweep has been swept under the rug thanks to the losses mentioned above. The Islanders clean swept the Pittsburgh Penguins. Let me say that one more time for people to really digest what I just said. The New York Islanders beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in four straight games.

To give you a perspective on the severity of the upset, let’s go back to last year. The Islanders weren't even close to the playoffs and everyone was focused on what their top player, John Tavares, was going to do in the off-season while the Penguins were on the hunt for their third straight Stanley Cup, only to lose in six games to the Capitals. As the off-season progressed, The Islanders lost John Tavares to the Leafs and the Penguins mostly kept their roster the same. The Islanders gained someone that helped their team in ways that made them a force to be reckoned with. They signed reigning Stanley Cup winning coach, Barry Trotz, to a five year, four-million-dollar deal. Barry Trotz took the same game plan that he used when he was with the Capitals and brought it to New York. Safe to say, it has worked. 

Back to the present day, the Islanders made it to the second seed in the Metropolitan division and the Penguins kept hold as the third seed. I did think that the Islanders could win this series but only in seven. That’s what makes them not only sweeping the Penguins but absolutely dominating the Penguins in three games so impressive. Trotz was familiar with how the Penguins play, seeing them the past two postseasons, and used the same methods from Washington to beat them again. 

So, why is this a bigger deal for me than the Lightning’s sweep? Well first, the Blue Jackets made the postseason last season and took the Capitals to the brink in the first round. The Lightning went into the postseason not playing a "meaningful game" for about a month. The Blue Jackets fought for their playoff lives for about two months and when they were in the postseason, they were more than ready for whoever they faced. 

Another reason this is big for me is that this signals the end of the Penguins Dynasty. I know it is a little early for us to signal the end of a dynasty, but this is unfamiliar territory for the Penguins. Yes, I know they lost 4-1 in the 2014-2015 season to the Rangers but this is the first time they have been swept in the first round since the 1971-1972 season. This is something that Pittsburgh fans have not experienced in a very long time. They got beaten by a team, who missed the postseason last season and was one of the laughing stocks in the league, in four games. The Islanders are the most improved team in the NHL today and they should be taken seriously moving forward.

All in all, these first-round upsets have all been insane to think about, but everyone wants to talk about the Lightning losing because they were a number one overall team. I understand the outside interest in that lose but everyone needs to talk about the Penguins loss just as much. For what it is worth, this has been the most interesting postseason in a while, and I can't wait to see what the rest has in store. 
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