Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk have been around this postseason thing before -- many, many times before. Leddy hasn't missed the playoffs in his five NHL seasons; this will be Boychuk's sixth consecutive playoff appearance. The defense pair has 123 playoff games between them, more than the rest of the defense corps put together and then some. Each has played for a Stanley Cup winner.
Garth Snow's trades for Leddy and Boychuk on Oct. 4 made the Islanders a playoff-caliber team. Now it's time for those two to show what they've learned in their playoff successes with Chicago and Boston and help turn the relatively green Islanders into seasoned playoff players.
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Oh, and while they're at it, Leddy and Boychuk likely will have to contend with a heaping dose of Caps star Alex Ovechkin.
Travis Hamonic appears certain to miss at least Wednesday night's Game 1 in Washington with a suspected left knee injury and did not practice on Monday. Hamonic usually is the Islanders defenseman assigned to corral Ovechkin at even strength, but now those duties likely will fall to Leddy and Boychuk.
"You just have to treat it like another game," Leddy said after the Isles went through a full hour of practice at Nassau Coliseum. "This is a fun time of year. There's more hype, of course, but you have to approach it like it's another game against a team you've seen quite a bit."
With Hamonic sidelined, Jack Capuano had rookie defenseman Griffin Reinhart up from Bridgeport to join the team, although it seems as if the Isles will go with the same defense pairs for Game 1 that they had in Saturday's regular-season finale: Leddy-Boychuk, Thomas Hickey-Lubomir Visnovsky and Calvin de Haan-Brian Strait.
Ovechkin is most dangerous on the power play, where he had 25 of his league-leading 53 goals this season. So even without the even-strength matchup, Boychuk will be seeing quite a bit of Washington's No. 8.
"He's going to get chances. You're not going to shut him down completely," Boychuk said. "You have to try and limit his chances, try to be in his face a little bit. But you have to be calm and collected about it as well."
"Stay cool" seemed to be the biggest message from Leddy and Boychuk for the approaching playoffs. Outside of those two, deadline acquisition Tyler Kennedy (76 playoff games with the Penguins) and goaltender Jaroslav Halak (23 playoff games), no other Islander besides Michael Grabner has played in more than nine postseason games.
So it's up to the first-year Islanders to step forward now.
"You'll have butterflies and be a little nervous right before that first faceoff," Boychuk said, "but after that, you try to settle down and just go and play."
Notes & quotes: Boychuk was surprised to see his old team, the Bruins, fall short of the playoffs. "They had what, 96 points? That's a lot for a team to miss," he said. "It's a really good team that didn't make it. Other than that, it's not really what I'm thinking about right now." . . . Reinhart skated on the left side with Matt Donovan in practice and said he'd played both the right side (with Kevin Czuczman) and the left side (with Matt Carkner) during his season in Bridgeport. "Playing with Carks is great. No one messes with me at all," he said . . . John Tavares said he was in the trainer's room on Saturday night when the Stars' Jamie Benn got an assist with nine seconds left to overtake Tavares for the NHL point-scoring crown. "It just wasn't meant to be," Tavares said. Bryan Trottier (1979) remains the only Islander to win the Art Ross Trophy.