Islanders' head coach Barry Trotz after Game 7 loss: 'This group is special'

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Islander Barry Trotz bench Game 3 vs Bruins
Islander Barry Trotz bench Game 3 vs Bruins

It was a magical season for the Islanders, but they come up just shy of their first Stanley Cup Final appearance since 1984.

They fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning 1-0 in Game 7 on Friday, and the Lightning will face the Montreal Canadiens to try to win their second straight Cup.

Despite the loss, though, head coach Barry Trotz had nothing but positive comments about his team.

“This group is special," Trotz said. "Their character, their work ethic, their will, their commitment, to me, it’s undeniable. It’s so strong, and that’s probably why this group believed that we could do this. We still believe we could, but it’s just a lot of pain, because they gave their all. There are some guys that are playing that are beat up, worn out, hurt, and they just keep going. There’s really a bond between all the players that is really strong, but the disappointing thing is we didn’t get this game, and this group in that room won’t be together again. That’s just the lay of the land in the National Hockey League.

"That’s all the pain, and there’s a lot of guys, as I said, they’re not gonna be defined by this game win or lose. They’re gonna be defined by all the games. I think we were the underdog in the first series, trailed, came back, we were the underdog in the second series, same thing, underdog in the third series, and we almost got it done. So, lot of character, we stayed to our identity, we’re on the right path. As I said last year, I didn’t say it to the guys this year, but I think they understand, you gotta keep going back. It’s no different than Tampa Bay. They had some heartache before they were able to win a Cup, and now they have a chance to win two.”

Scott Mayfield said he is able to appreciate the success the Islanders had this year, but an emotional Mathew Barzal said it's just too early.

"Sucks getting back to this point and fell short again. "Got guys like [Josh Bailey] and [Andy Greene], veteran guys that – I got a few more years, but you wanna win for those guys. It hurts seeing those guys in the locker room afterwards. I know how close we were," Barzal said, holding back tears.

Mayfield feels that the Islanders are close to winning it all.

"I don’t think back-to-back being the last four teams, I don’t think that’s a fluke," Mayfield said. "I don’t know if too many people believed in us the first couple of rounds, but we believe in ourselves. We’re a confident group."

“When you win a Cup with a group, that is special. That is a bond that never goes away," Trotz said.

"This group has been committed to do all that," he added. "I wish I could take their pain away. I’ve had the opportunity to have won a Cup and know how that feels and all that, and I just really wanted this group to feel that as well."