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Tom Kuhnhackl

May 3, 2019; Raleigh, NC, USA; New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner (40) and left wing Anders Lee (27) looks on during warmups before the game against the Carolina Hurricanes in game four of the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the New York Islanders 5-2. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports (James Guillory)
May 3, 2019; Raleigh, NC, USA; New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner (40) and left wing Anders Lee (27) looks on during warmups before the game against the Carolina Hurricanes in game four of the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the New York Islanders 5-2. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports (James Guillory)

There will be a sour taste in the Islanders' mouths after being swept by Carolina, one round after sweeping Pittsburgh. This surprising season was indubitably a success given their low expectations, but knowing that the Eastern Conference was wide open and there for the taking will leave the Isles closely examing the hows and whys of their elimination.

It leads into what will be a crucial summer for the Islanders. They've got the coach, they've got the GM and they've gone from having a bleak outlook to legitimate contenders. Now they need to figure out how to take the next step toward winning the Stanley Cup. Here are five big questions the Islanders face entering the offseason.

1. Will Robin Lehner remain with the Islanders?

Tags: Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Jordan Eberle, Josh Ho-Sang, Michael dal Colle, Robin Lehner, Thomas Greiss, Tom Kuhnhackl, Valtteri Filppula
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Mar 23, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Islanders right wing Cal Clutterbuck (15) passes the puck against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports  (Bill Streicher)
Mar 23, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Islanders right wing Cal Clutterbuck (15) passes the puck against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)

Cal Clutterbuck will be a game-time decision for Game 3 in Raleigh, Islanders coach Barry Trotz said Wednesday morning.

The right wing will warm up with the team before the start of the game to determine whether he can go. 

According to the New York Post, Clutterbuck was on the ice Wednesday morning with the extras. Michael Dal Colle, who'd likely replace Clutterbuck if the veteran can't play, was also on the ice.

Tags: Brock Nelson, Cal Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas, Josh Bailey, Michael dal Colle, Tom Kuhnhackl
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New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield and center Valtteri Filppula high-five after defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena. (Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield and center Valtteri Filppula high-five after defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena. (Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports)

After waiting for more than a week, the Islanders finally found out late Wednesday night that they'll play the Hurricanes -- the Bunch of Jerks -- in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. And because Carolina upset Washington in Game 7 on the road, the first road win by a team in the series, the Isles will get home-ice advantage in the second round, with Game 1 in Brooklyn on Friday night.

Will the well-rested Islanders be rusty Friday night having not played since last Tuesday? Or will they be able to pounce on a Hurricanes squad tired and beat up after a grueling seven-game series?

Let's take a look at how the Islanders and Hurricanes match up heading into the second round of the postseason.

Tags: Adam Pelech, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Cal Clutterbuck, Carolina Hurricanes, Casey Cizikas, Johnny Boychuk, Jordan Eberle, Josh Bailey, Mathew Barzal, Matt Martin, Robin Lehner, Ryan Pulock, Tom Kuhnhackl, Valtteri Filppula
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Islanders ready for Game 2 00:01:27
New York Islanders are taking the momentum from their Game 1 victory over the Penguins and using it to keep focused on Game 2.

Barry Trotz has certainly earned the benefit of the doubt after winning the Stanley Cup last year with Washington and leading the Islanders to an improbable playoff berth. Even so, there were a few eyebrows raised regarding his decision to play Tom Kuhnhackl in a top-six spot over Michael Dal Colle in Game 1 Wednesday night against the Penguins.

There won't be anybody doubting Kuhnhackl's presence in the Game 2 lineup after the forward, who won two Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh, had an effective 17:42 in the Islanders' Game 1 overtime victory.

Tags: Anthony Beauvillier, Michael dal Colle, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tom Kuhnhackl
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Islanders talk ahead of playoffs 00:01:12
New York Islanders clinched home ice against the Penguins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Anders Lee knows fans will rock the Nassau Coliseum

The Penguins have their longtime stars and the championship pedigree, but the Islanders have been up for every challenge this season, and what they may lack in individual talent is made up for in commitment and chemistry.

With that in mind, here's a look at how the Islanders and Penguins match up heading into the first round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.

FORWARDS

Tags: Adam Pelech, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Johnny Boychuk, Jordan Eberle, Josh Bailey, Mathew Barzal, Nick Leddy, Pittsburgh Penguins, Robin Lehner, Ryan Pulock, Scott Mayfield, Thomas Greiss, Tom Kuhnhackl, Valtteri Filppula
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Nov 10, 2018; Sunrise, FL, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) celebrates his goal against the Florida Panthers with left wing Josh Bailey (12) and defenseman Nick Leddy (2) in the first period at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports (Robert Mayer)
Nov 10, 2018; Sunrise, FL, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) celebrates his goal against the Florida Panthers with left wing Josh Bailey (12) and defenseman Nick Leddy (2) in the first period at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports (Robert Mayer)

The New York Islanders, who on Saturday clinched their first playoff berth since 2016, visit the Florida Panthers on Thursday night in what amounts to a tune-up for the postseason.

Twenty Islanders have playoff experience, and five have lifted the Stanley Cup for other teams: defensemen Johnny Boychuk (Boston Bruins, 2011) and Nick Leddy (Chicago Blackhawks, 2013), center Valtteri Filppula (Detroit Red Wings, 2008) and wingers Andrew Ladd (Carolina Hurricanes, 2006; Blackhawks, 2010) and Tom Kuhnhackl (Pittsburgh Penguins, 2016 and 2017).

New Islanders coach Barry Trotz is also a champ, leading the Washington Capitals to the title last year.

"It's always nice when you have an idea what to expect," Kuhnhackl told Newsday. "The intensity and physicality elevates in the playoffs."

Tags: Andrew Ladd, Florida Panthers, Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Tom Kuhnhackl, Valtteri Filppula
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Mar 7, 2019; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; New York Islanders center Valtteri Filppula (51) prepares for a faceoff in the first period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)
Mar 7, 2019; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; New York Islanders center Valtteri Filppula (51) prepares for a faceoff in the first period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)

The Islanders' depth at center will be tested as Valtteri Filppula will miss the next four weeks with an upper-body injury, the Islanders announced Wednesday -- on Filppula's 35th birthday. Filppula was injured during the first period of Tuesday's loss and did not return.

The four-week timetable means Filppula will miss the start of the playoffs, and possibly the entire first round. The veteran has 15 goals and 14 assists in 71 games this season after signing a one-year, $2.75 million deal with the Isles.

Tags: Jordan Eberle, Tom Kuhnhackl, Valtteri Filppula
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 (Dennis Schneidler)
(Dennis Schneidler)

One night after their emotional win against John Tavares and the Maple Leafs, the Islanders took a 3-1 loss Friday against the Capitals, who are now tied with the Isles atop the Metropolitan Division with 81 points. The Isles have a game in hand. 

With Thomas Greiss pulled for an extra attacker, Josh Bailey put the puck in his own empty net with 1:28 remaining, a blind pass attempt for Brock Nelson gone awry. >> Box score

 


First period:

  • 2:43 NYI Tom Kuhnhackl
Tags: Tom Kuhnhackl, Washington Capitals
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