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Why Tonight Is A Must-Win Game For The Islanders

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - APRIL 24: Evgeny Kuznetsov #92 of the Washington Capitals celebrates his goal at 7:35 of the third period against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum on April 24, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - APRIL 24: Evgeny Kuznetsov #92 of the Washington Capitals celebrates his goal at 7:35 of the third period against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum on April 24, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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One of the phrases so often overused in sports is “must-win”. Is it a must-win, or a can’t lose for the Islanders tonight? Even though it’s incredibly cliche, you can make a strong case that the Islanders have to win tonight.

So far, the Isles are 0-1-1 in their three-game series against the Washington Capitals. As it stands right now, before action tonight, the Isles are in third place trailing Washington by three points and the Penguins by four.

On the other side of the coin, the Boston Bruins are right on the Islanders heels trailing them by three points. Of those four teams, the Islanders have the worst record in their last 10 with a 5-4-1 record.

Obviously, the Isles have to take care of business tonight, but they will likely be scoreboard watching as well. The Bruins and Penguins play tonight so if the Isles lose, it could be bad news either way.

Either they lose and Boston trails the Isles by just a point, or they lose and the Penguins extend their lead and put the Islanders six points out of first with just seven games to play.

Barry Trotz has already mentioned making a few changes to the lineup tonight to help get a spark. One of the thoughts would be to try Kyle Palmieri with Mathew Barzal, which Trotz seems keen on doing.

Up to this point, neither Kyle Palmieri or Travis Zajac have been particularly good for New York. A lineup shakeup with the hope to get more from the two and the offense, in general, seems like an appropriate step for Trotz.

My fear isn’t the Islanders falling out of a playoff spot, the lead is too big. Instead, it’s a limp to the finish line and not having any momentum which scares the life out of me. Here’s the remaining schedule:

April 27 @ WSH

April 29 @ NYR

May 1 vs NYR

May 3  @ BUF

May 4 @ BUF

May 5 vs NJD

May 8 vs NJD

May 10 @ BOS

Would 5-2-1 be enough to get them into a spot with home-ice advantage? This team is much better at the Coliseum than they are on the road so that’s a big deal. It’s going to be tough, especially with the division so tightly packed.

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Regardless, the Isles have to start playing better hockey and it needs to start tonight. They can’t afford to drop three in a row to the Caps.

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