A couple of weeks ago the New York Islanders season looked hopeless. It appeared the only drama the Islanders would have between now and the end of the regular season, would be if the ping-pong balls would bounce their way in April. But with their recent improved play, there is a new hope for the Islanders regarding the playoffs.
The New York Islanders are 4-0-1 in their last five games. There are still issues regarding their play, however. Still too many slow starts and coughing up third-period leads, as well as the power-play.
However, since Doug Weight has taken over as head coach there is no doubt the Islanders are playing with a great deal of passion, energy, belief and have been much more resilient.
It’s still a tall task in terms of the Islanders making the playoffs. But there are now in the mix. That couldn’t be said just a short time ago. Unfortunately so is every other team in the Eastern Conference.
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Unlike the teams in the Atlantic division, the Islanders only have one playoff spot possibility that they can land. With the records and the play of the top four teams in the Metropolitan, it would take an epic collapse by one of those teams for the Islanders to pass them in the standings.
That means the Islanders are all in for the second wild card spot. But in order to land that precious slot, the Islanders will have to beat out five teams in the Atlantic (outside of the top 3), as well as their Metropolitan rivals Philadelphia, Carolina, and New Jersey.
Again this is no easy task.
The Islanders have 36 games left this season, heading into tonight’s contest versus the Montreal Canadiens. However, of the Islanders remaining 36 games, 22 of them are on the road. This includes a nine-game road trip from February 21st through March 11th. Obviously, the Islanders current road play (6-9-4 record) must greatly improve.
There are a number of interesting points to consider regarding the Islanders schedule. of their remaining 36 games, 18 are against the teams in the mix for that second wild card.
The Islanders also have eight games remaining with the Devils and Hurricanes. Finally, the Isles only play the Capitals and Penguins just one more time each.
The opportunity is in front of the Islanders.
Games in Hand
The Islanders currently have played 46 games. Other than Ottawa and Toronto (both have also played 46 games) the Isles have games in hand on every other team that could be in the fight for that second wild card.
Consider the Islanders have five games in hand on the Bruins and three games in hand on the Devils, Flyers, Lightning, Panthers and Red Wings.
Of course, the Islanders have to turn those games in hand into wins for them to mean anything.
There is hope in Islander country. However, in order for the Islanders to make the playoffs, they need a big push in their final 36 games.