After a tough loss, Saturday night at the Barclays Center against the Boston Bruins, the New York Islanders find themselves outside of the playoff picture. With eight games to go over the last two weeks of the season.
The New York Islanders have to finish ahead of either the Bruins or the Toronto Maple Leafs. While at the same time continue to stay ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning (the Isles currently hold a 1 point lead).
The good news in terms of the Bruins is while the Islanders are currently two points behind them they do have a game in hand on Boston. However, the Islanders must finish ahead of the Bruins in the standings if it comes down to the two of them. The reason being Boston has the ROW tiebreaker over the Islanders and that isn’t going to change.
New York Islanders
In terms of catching the Maple Leafs that is currently a more difficult task. Both the Islanders and Leafs are even in games played but the Leafs hold a three-point advantage over the blue and orange, as well as the ROW tiebreaker (34 to 33).
Boston and Toronto do not play each other in the final two weeks but Tampa squares off against each team one more time.
At first glance, it may appear the Islanders have the most favorable schedule of the four teams scrambling to make the playoffs. Don’t be fooled as the Islanders have a tricky finish.
The Islanders play five of their last eight on the road, which includes a four-game road trip. Half of the Islanders remaining games are against Nashville and New Jersey (twice each).
The only playoff teams left on the Isles schedule are the Predators and the Ottawa Senators. With the Islanders hosting Ottawa on the last day of the regular season, it’s possible that game could mean nothing for the Senators and therefore they rest almost all of their key players.
Beware, however, of those other five games against non-playoff teams. These teams want to finish up strong and have nothing to lose. They will have young players trying to make a strong impression on the organization for next season.
Those games against non-playoff teams include Carolina, Philidelphia, Buffalo, and New Jersey. The Islanders have had a tough time against the Hurricanes and the Flyers (they’ve only beaten them once time each). Look for a very motivated Kyle Okposo to ruin the Islanders season when they go to Buffalo and faceoff against the Sabres.
Due to where they are in the standings, as well as the tiebreaker, and no more games against Toronto and Boston, the Islanders are going to have to go at least 6-2-0 in their final eight games. Even that maybe not enough.
If the Islanders do fall short expect changes to be made and quite possibly major ones at that.