There are two local pro teams currently in the playoffs, and one of them features among the most star-studded lineups in the history of New York sports.
The Islanders are the other one.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
What they are is a balanced team full of established veterans, headlined by an enigmatic hockey artiste in Mathew Barzal and led by two of the most successful hockey bosses of all time in Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz.
That is what makes their current run of three consecutive years with a least one playoff round victory — their first such streak since the early 1980s — extra-impressive.
All these guys have done lately is win, and regardless of the outcome of Game 4 of a second-round series against the Bruins on Saturday night, they will be back at it in Boston on Monday for Game 5.
The achievement speaks for itself, but for added perspective consider what has become of many of the teams with far greater star power than the Islanders have.
The divisional finals are without a startling number of the NHL’s biggest names.
Consider the East Division. The Islanders took out Sidney Crosby’s Penguins in the first round, just as they did to the Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin last season, just as they did to Crosby two years ago.
So much for the best two players of the 21st Century.
But that is not all. Also missing in the current round are the Oilers’ Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews and John Tavares and many other hockey luminaries.
The best player left in the field is the Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon. Of the top eight players in a preseason poll by Canada’s TSN, the only ones still playing are MacKinnon and the Lightning’s Victor Hedman.
There are several big-name goaltenders still playing, including all three Vezina Trophy finalists, but among skaters the carnage is remarkable.
But balance has been part of the Islanders’ secret of success, even more so since Tavares left following the 2017-18 season.
Barzal, the Islanders’ regular-season scoring leader with 45 points, tied for 44th place in the league — behind five (!!) Rangers. Josh Bailey was second among the Islander with 35 points, tied for 94th (!) in the league.
In the current series, the Bruins’ top line of David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand all have bigger profiles in North America than any Islander.
Trotz has done this both ways, having coached Ovechkin and fellow potential future Hall of Famer Niklas Backstrom for four seasons — including a Stanley Cup in 2017-18 — and other famous names. Now he is superstar-free.
Is there a difference in those two coaching tasks? He said there is.
"We have some people that are top players; I don’t know if they’re considered in the Crosby or Ovechkin type of category," Trotz said before Game 4. "Those players demand ice time and they earn their ice time over the course of time. But also sometimes you have to manage them a little bit more in different areas and different parts of their game. So you find other ways to get other guys involved, which is a little different.
"With this group, with the four lines, they all know that they’re going to have to play against everybody and they all know that they’re going to have to find ways to contribute. I always say, ‘Know who you are as a player.’ And I think we have a good grasp of who we are.
"Our role players play their role and our skill guys play with their skill and there’s not too much deviating from that. They have good definition of the best version of what they can do in terms of contributions."
The goal is the Stanley Cup, onto which the winners get their names etched regardless of how big those names are.