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16 Islanders on verge of first NHL playoff experience

Travis Hamonic (3) is checked into the boards

Travis Hamonic (3) is checked into the boards by Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Beau Bennett (19) during the second period of a game in Pittsburgh. (March 10, 2013) Credit: AP

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Islanders can clinch a playoff spot Tuesday night, and we’ve discussed over and over how it would be the first appearance for the long list of homegrown players on this roster.

Of the 27 Isles currently on the roster, 16 would be in an NHL postseason for the first time. That includes John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, Travis Hamonic and the other obvious ones.

But even the veterans aren’t exactly loaded with playoff experience. Evgeni Nabokov has by far the most postseason experience with 80 games over nine playoff seasons with the Sharks; he backstopped one trip to the Western Conference finals.

That’s as far as any current Islander has gotten while contributing to his team’s postseason run.

Eric Boulton was a “Black Ace” for the Devils last season, an extra skater who didn’t get into a playoff game during their run to the Cup final.

Beyond Nabokov, the Islander with the most playoff experience? Marty Reasoner, who has 23 playoff games over three postseasons under his belt, but none since 2003 with the Oilers.

Lubomir Visnovsky has 18 playoff games played. Mark Streit (12), Brad Boyes (11) and Matt Carkner (10) have been around but haven’t gotten to the playoffs much.

The Islander with the most recent playoff run is another surprise: Keith Aucoin, who played in all 14 postseason games for the Caps last spring.

So if the Islanders want to talk about playoff experience and the thrill of making it to the Finals and winning it all, they’ll have to go to the front office: Doug Weight won it all with the Hurricanes here in 2006 and Garth Snow reached the Finals with the Flyers in 1997.

Playoff experience is one of those “intangibles” that only seem to matter when guys like me are writing about it after the fact. For now, the Isles are still led by their young, inexperienced core, and they seem to be handling things just fine.

New York Sports