With the New York Islanders going 8-2-2 since Doug Weight took over, they’re now just two points out from bouncing the Toronto Maple Leafs from the last wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Now’s a good time as any to go over the NHLs tiebreaking rules.
With a win in regulation on Tuesday the New York Islanders can actually sit in the playoffs. The Flyers aren’t in action until Wednesday so no worries about them winning, right away. Or ever (fingers crossed). And the Toronto Maple Leafs are the Isles opposition on Tuesday.
Just a month ago there was little hope the Islanders could jump seven teams to sit in a playoff spot, but here we are in mid-February and the possibility is real.
With another two-ish months to the season the Isles have to maintain this pace if they don’t want to be passed themselves. Including the Leafs and Flyers there are six teams within a point of the Islanders.
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Keep wining and the Isles will undoubtedly secure themselves post-season hockey, but start dropping points and other teams will certainly catch up. So, what happens if, and when they do?
The NHL has a set of five different tie breakers to set teams apart in the standings in case points totals weren’t enough.
First is points per game, a team with less games played will get the advantage. For the Isles, that’s a decisive advantage against the Flyers whom they hold two games-in-hand on. The Leafs on the other hand, are level in games played with the Isles and have yet to go through their bye.
Second is ROW. Which stands for regulation and overtime wins. All wins, not including shootout wins are added to the ROW. The Isles currently have a ROW of 24, the Leafs are at 24, and the Flyers are at 22.
Third, are games played against the opposition. Here’s how that breaks down for the teams closest to the Isles in the standings today.
Table for Opposition Tie Breaker
The last tie breaker is goal differential. Of all the teams listed in the previous table Only Boston has a better goal differential than the Isles +3 with a +4. The Flyers and Panthers sit at -21 and -19 respectively. Toronto has a +2 goal differential.
The Isles hold a good advantage in just about every tie breaking category. Assuming the wins keep coming we won’t have to worry about tie breakers. But for the time being, with teams starting to cluster around those wild-card spots it’s good to know how the Isles can move in or out of the playoffs when sitting even in points.