For the first time in six years, the New York Islanders are in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The 2012-13 campaign was truly a tale of two seasons for the Islanders. It began with the delayed arrival of defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, who first tried to block his trade from the Anaheim Ducks last summer then, after the deal was upheld, didn't play his first game with New York until Feb. 9 as he attended to his ill son in Slovakia.
Visnovsky's absence, combined with subpar goaltending from the tandem of Evgeni Nabokov and Rick DiPietro, played big roles in what was a rough start for the Islanders, particularly on home ice. Some may have believed another lottery pick was in the cards after what transpired Feb. 18, when New York suffered a 7-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Slowly but surely, the Islanders began to solidify things in their back end. They made some tweaks to their lineup and started to demonstrate an ability to protect a third-period lead, something they'd been unable to do in seasons past. Once the calendar turned to March, the Islanders really started to turn things around and finished the month with a record of 8-5-1.
April has been one of the most dominant months the Islanders have enjoyed in years. With Tuesday's 4-3 shootout loss against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Islanders clinched a playoff berth and improved to 8-0-3 this month. They are in sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
Here's a look at five of the biggest reasons the Islanders will take part in the postseason for the first time since 2007: