With all due respect to the Panthers, Capitals and Flyers . . . this is different.
Sure, the Islanders have it in them to recover in the Eastern Conference finals after one electric storm of a rout by the Lightning in Game 1 on Monday night in Edmonton.
But this also is true, as evidenced by the 8-2 blowout:
Tampa Bay is really good — scary good — better than those first three Islanders postseason conquests, and a team that is going to be extraordinarily difficult to beat four times in the next six games.
“They have a high-end skill team,” Nick Leddy said. “We just have to limit those [chances] as much as possible and really try to take away their time and space.”
The Islanders had reason to be sluggish, what with playing Game 7 against the Flyers in Toronto only two nights earlier and then flying across Canada to join the rested Lightning in Edmonton.
But the extent of the mismatch came as a shock, given how good the Islanders have looked since the start of August and how good they looked in the final game against Philadelphia.
Consider this: The Flyers were 0-for-13 on the power play in seven games against the Islanders. The Lightning had two power-play goals in the first two periods, both set up by penalties against Andy Greene.
“Every time we made a mistake, they scored,” coach Barry Trotz said.
As much as the Islanders have charmed and impressed the hockey world during their playoff run this summer, the experts also expected the Lightning to be a huge challenge, as they are for every opponent.
They lost only one game each to Columbus and Boston in the first two rounds and have all manner of weapons.
They include defensemen Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh, an elite No. 1 line of Ondrej Palat, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov, and a top goalie in Andrei Vasilevskiy.
All of the above played key roles in Game 1, while the Islanders became increasingly discombobulated. Brock Nelson whacked his stick against the glass in frustration. Mathew Barzal later did the same — twice.
While the Islanders are a bit of a surprise as a final four team, the Lightning are under pressure to at least win this series, if not the next one.
This is their fourth time in the conference finals in six seasons, and they have reached only one Cup Final, when they beat the Rangers in 2015 and went on to lose to Chicago.
But the Islanders certainly expect to put up a better fight than what they showed on Monday.
“It’s never good to get blown out,” Matt Martin said. “It’s embarrassing. We didn’t envision that, obviously.”
Trotz went with Thomas Greiss in goal after his Game 7 shutout of the Flyers, then yanked him after Tampa Bay scored three goals on its first nine shots in the first 10:46 — two of them with Greiss screened. But Semyon Varlamov did not fare any better, giving Trotz an interesting decision for Game 2 on Wednesday.
The more difficult matter facing the Islanders is not strategic as much as it is fundamental: Is there anything they can do to slow down Tampa Bay?
As Leddy said, taking away “time and space” is the key. Easier said than done.
The Islanders declined to use fatigue as an excuse, but it was a strange couple of days for them. Before the game, Trotz spoke of how he still was trying to adjust to the Edmonton bubble and figure out where everything was located on his first day there.
But he praised his players for their ability to roll with complications they have faced during these unusual playoffs and to continue handling the bubble “grind,” as he called it.
“This team has accepted everything that’s been thrown at us, from scheduling to when we play to all that stuff,” he said. “This is the new normal, and we’ll deal with it.”
Now they have another complication to deal with: the Lightning.