The New York Islanders have amassed points in each of their past four games. That, believe it or not, is good for their longest point streak of the season since their historic 17-game run.
This “news” can be interpreted in two ways: either the Islanders are currently playing well and/or the Islanders have been largely mediocre since their 17-game point streak was snapped in November.
Taking the positive spin, over the past four games, the Islanders have beaten the Stars and the Rangers and have lost in overtime to the Hurricanes and Canucks. The Stars and the Canucks are likely playoff teams, the Hurricanes are right in contention, and the Rangers are well, bad. Still, it’s always nice beating the Rangers, especially after losing the previous two to them.
Overall, this has been a solid stretch of play for the Islanders and it’s nice to see they’ve come out strong since the All-Star Weekend and their bye week. The Islanders scored at least three goals in both of their games since their long break, a feat they failed to accomplish in any consecutive two-game stretch in January.
Despite the Isles’ recent strong play, there is still reason to be concerned about their postseason prospects. The reason is because the Islanders have been largely mediocre since the Ducks snapped their 17-game point streak on Nov. 25.
On Nov. 23, after losing in overtime to the Sharks, the Isles extended their franchise-record point streak to 17 games. Their season record improved to 16-3-2, which was good for third-best in the Eastern Conference. The Isles trailed only the Capitals by three points and the Bruins by one point, but had multiple games in hand over both teams.
Since then, including the recent four-game point streak, the Islanders have gone 14-12-4. The Islanders have since dropped to sixth in the Eastern Conference and fourth in the Metropolitan, though they have three games in hand over the Blue Jackets.
Right now, the Islanders sit in the top wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. This would set them up with a difficult first-round playoff matchup with the Bruins. Even if the Isles were to leapfrog the Blue Jackets, they would still be without home-ice advantage. The Isles would have to face the Penguins, a team hungry for revenge since getting swept by the Isles last year.
Of course, it is possible the Islanders could miss the playoffs altogether if two of the Flyers, Hurricanes, and Maple Leafs pass them in the standings. Right now, the Isles only have one more point than the Flyers, and three more points than the Hurricanes and Maple Leafs.
The Remainder of the Season
The Islanders still have 31 games left to play this season. A lot can happen between now and April, so the best we can hope for is that the Islanders continue their recent strong play. If they can take care of their business, they should be able to return to the postseason.
The Isles’ next game is at home Thursday night versus the Kings, the last place team in the Western Conference. The Isles then face challenges on the road against the Lightning and the Capitals.
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We’re about to find out just how badly this team wants playoff hockey.