Caps correspondent Brad Parker (@StoptheHats) returns to preview the Caps-Isles series. He’s joined by his longtime hockey teammate and friend LJ, who is a diehard Islanders fan (apparently those still exist). Brad asked the questions, LJ gave the answers. We thank them both.
1. The Islanders led the Metro division for most of the season. Why?
Main reason has to be the offense. The Islanders were 4th in the league in goals for.
An improved defense as well. Garth, who gets killed as a GM, made two incredible acquisitions before the season started in early October on the same day. Nick Leddy was acquired for a very good defensive prospect (Ville Pokka) and a pick, and Johnny Boychuk for a couple of second-round picks. The fact that Stan Bowman traded Leddy rather than Oduya is insane — Leddy would be the best defenseman on the Blackhawks not named Duncan right now. It goes to my theory that NHL coaches are by and large morons. Quenneville didn’t trust Leddy as much as he trusted others, and during their Stanley Cup and playoff runs, he was relegated to a sixth- or seventh-defenseman role.
Boychuk, meanwhile, given a first pair role after playing behind Chara and others, was also deemed expendable for salary cap purposes by Boston, and he shined with career highs in most categories. Ask Claude Julien whether he would rather have had Boychuk or Zach Trotman coming down the stretch. Boychuk is what Caps fans wish Brooks Orpik could be. As a plus, his brothers might be the funniest in the NHL family on Twitter (outside of Luongo).