Middletown, N. J. - With a critical regular season ending 5 game road trip upcoming, the New York Islanders mantra should be ‘What, us worry?’ – The truth of the matter is only Pittsburgh and Ottawa have more wins on the road than the Isles in the entire Eastern Conference. So the thought of finishing at Toronto, Winnipeg, Carolina, Philadelphia and Buffalo really does not intimidate this team at all. They kept rolling along with a 5-2 thrashing of the Florida Panthers at Nassau Coliseum on fan appreciation night moving their magic number to clinching a playoff spot to 8. If the chips fall where they might, it could be as soon as Saturday that the Isles have to play a clincher that would secure the team their first trip to the round of sixteen since 2007.
And that is not the only good news surrounding Islander nation right now. TSN confirmed last night that the Islanders will indeed take part in the outdoor winter classic on January 29,2014 against the rival New York Rangers. The game will be played at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx and be part of a six game package of outdoor extravaganzas. Just more proof that with every hard working night, this team becomes more relevant in the National Hockey League landscape. For them to be featured in such a hugely publicized, closely covered and nationally broadcast event must have owner Charles Wang and general manager Garth Snow grinning from ear to ear like Frosty the snowman. And so they should. They have exceeded our expectations and cast away our doubts by assembling the team before you on the ice that makes us smile even when not at their best. Dominick over at Lighthouse Hockey has more details here.
Sitting On The Bridge
Our youngsters down on the Bridge dropped a tough game last night to Portland falling 5-4 in overtime. The Sound Tigers had a 4-2 lead with 5 minutes remaining and could not hold on, losing on Chris Brown‘s 27th of the season at the 0:26 mark. Rick DiPietro was not sharp allowing all the goals on 29 shots.
For the baby Isles, Nino Niederreiter scored his team leading 28th of the season and Matt Donovan tallied his 14th from the blueline. With 3 games to go and 5 points behind the Connecticut Whale, it would take a remarkable turn of events for the Tigers to see the playoffs.
Floating Around The Twitter-sphere
If I had the money, I would be following the #Isles from arena to arena for the rest of the season.
— Neil R (@IslesPunkFan) April 17, 2013
- What a great comment Neil and shows the commitment that this team is getting and in reality, always had, from its pure hardcore fanbase. As a side note I would also but don’t so I can’t. Hee Hee
— Eric Hornick (@ehornick) April 17, 2013
- Another double underline from Isles super stat man Eric Hornick. The defense has been absolutely on a tear lately and shutting the door on everyone. Evgeni Nabokov and the entire six man unit deserves a huge stick tap.
— Droopy Lee (@Wetbandit19) April 17, 2013
- Believe says Matt Martin. It has become the mantra on this match to the playoffs. But it also pertains to the road that the front office decided to take this team on. We didn’t always buy it, and some had their serious doubts, but it is paying off huge dividends and will only continue to do so thanks to the literal restocking of the feeder club in Bridgeport.
Last Night In The NHL
- Those pesky Winnipeg Jets refuse to go away, picking up two points at home via the shootout after blowing a 3-1 third period lead against the Lightning. They remain three points back of the Islanders and have now tied the Rangers for 8th place with NY having a game in hand. Underrated Andrew Ladd tallied twice to up his total on the season to 18.
- Washington also continued their red hot play trouncing Toronto 5-1 at home. The Caps maintain their Southweak division lead over the aforementioned Jets by 4 points with 5 games remaining for each team. Alex Ovechkin scored yet again, that #28 for him and he continues to lead the NHL in the race for the Rocket Richard trophy.
- Ottawa, a day after having their game in Boston postponed, kept 6th place in the Eastern Conference, eking out a 3-2 win at home against Carolina. With Craig Anderson and now Milan Michalek back in the lineup below excellent coaching by Jack Adams favorite Paul MacLean, the Sens just keep humming along.
- Hmm, who could I have left out? Oh, that’s right. Yesterday in Top Shelf I mentioned the role of the Flyers down the stretch of playing spoiler. They did just that last night at home, dispatching the Rangers 4-2. The ‘other’ New York team continues to struggle to find consistency in its game and still has two games left on the schedule with New Jersey, who no matter how unlucky they are getting, will put up a tough fight and not just lie down given the contentious history between the two clubs. The Rangers could not make the playoffs and Columbus very well could? Wow, that would be a gift from the heavens.
- Here is Islanders head coach Jack Capuano speaking to the media after last night’s win…
Current Eastern Conference Standings
|1||Y - PITTSBURGH||ATL||42||32||10||0||64||29||141||102||+39||16-5-0||16-5-0||3-0||8-2-0||WON 4|
|2||X - MONTRÉAL||NE||42||26||11||5||57||23||131||107||+24||13-6-3||13-5-2||3-2||6-4-0||LOST 2|
|3||* - WASHINGTON||SE||43||24||17||2||50||21||134||119||+15||13-8-0||11-9-2||3-0||9-0-1||WON 8|
|7||NY ISLANDERS||ATL||43||22||16||5||49||19||124||124||E||10-11-3||12-5-2||3-1||7-1-2||WON 1|
|8||NY RANGERS||ATL||42||21||17||4||46||17||102||100||+2||13-6-2||8-11-2||4-4||5-4-1||LOST 1|
|12||NEW JERSEY||ATL||42||15||17||10||40||13||96||115||-19||10-9-2||5-8-8||2-7||0-6-4||LOST 3|
|13||TAMPA BAY||SE||43||17||22||4||38||16||136||135||+1||11-8-2||6-14-2||1-3||3-4-3||OT 1|
As always we thank you for reading eyesonisles. Stay tuned for a great piece tonight from Mike Willhoft on fandom in the NHL.
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Other Facebook Islanders pages that deserve your attention!
Check out Gary Harding’s blog (former Isles booster club VP)