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Islanders: Three reasons game against NY Rangers is must win

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 16: Jean-Gabriel Pageau #44 of the New York Islanders goes up against Jacob Trouba #8 of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on January 16, 2021 in New York City. The Rangers shutout the Islanders 5-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 16: Jean-Gabriel Pageau #44 of the New York Islanders goes up against Jacob Trouba #8 of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on January 16, 2021 in New York City. The Rangers shutout the Islanders 5-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Jean-Gabriel Pageau #44 of the New York Islanders celebrates his goal in the first period against the Philadelphia Flyers. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Standings in East

Not to mention what a loss would mean in the standings. With the Islanders recent play, their cushion near the top of the East has completely eroded. The Penguins are only one point bach while Boston is four points back with two games in hand.

Both the Penguins and Bruins are in action today. They’ll face the Devils (7th in the East) and the Sabres (8th in the East), respectively. A win for both – an outcome that is quite likely frankly – combined with an Islanders loss would obviously narrow that gap.

Actually, the Penguins would leapfrog the Islanders thank to the Pens superior regulation win count (21 to the Isles 20) while the Bruins would sit only two points back and still hold two games in hand.

The Rangers, who’ve gone 7-1-2 over their last ten are eight points back of the Islanders and four points back of the Bruins for that final playoff spot in the East. They’re still on the outside of the playoff picture and looking in, but they’ve narrowed the gap between them and the Bruins to just four points.

That’s why today’s game is a must-win. The Islanders are still in a good spot in the division, but a loss could change that.

A win tonight, even if we assume the Pens and Bruins also win, allows the Islanders to keep the distance they’ve already established. And, more importantly, they set up a ten-point lead over the fifth-placed Rangers.

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