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Islanders magic number for playoffs and why you shouldn’t worry

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - APRIL 20: The New York Islanders celebrate a 6-1 victory over the New York Rangers at the Nassau Coliseum on April 20, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - APRIL 20: The New York Islanders celebrate a 6-1 victory over the New York Rangers at the Nassau Coliseum on April 20, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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A number of teams have already qualified for the 2021 playoffs. In the West, three of the four teams are already in while one team in the Central has booked its ticket. But for the New York Islanders and the East division, no team has yet seeled a post-season berth this year.

With 63 points from 48 games, the Islanders sit third in the East division. Four points back of the Pittsburgh Penguins at the top of the East, and seven points ahead of the Rangers in fifth (the first non-playoff spot).

So what will it take for the New York Islanders to clinch a playoff spot? And should we worry about the Isles chances?

New York Islanders playoff magic number

I can understand why some fans are worried. The Islanders haven’t looked particularly good since the trade deadline with a 2-3-1 record. But look, there’s no reason to worry about the Islanders making the playoffs.

Their magic number is eight right now. With 71 points (the 63 they already have plus eight future points), the New York Rangers, who are in fifth can’t catch them. With 56 points right now, even if the Rangers won all of their remaining seven games they’d only pick up 70.

So, can the Islanders pick up eight points from their remaining eight games? Essentially can they play .500 hockey the rest of the way?

They might not be playing 0.500 hockey since the trade deadline, but there should be no reason they can’t play 0.500 the rest of the way.

Here’s how the rest of their schedule looks team-by-team and their record against those teams:

  • Washington Capitals:
    • Game remaining: 1
    • Season record: 2-4-1
  • New York Rangers
    • Games remaining: 2
    • Season record: 4-2-0
  • Buffalo Sabres
    • Games remaining: 2
    • Season record: 6-0-0
  • New Jersey Devils
    • Games remaining: 2
    • Season record: 5-1-0
  • Boston Bruins
    • Games remaining: 1
    • Season record: 5-2-0

No game will be a guaranteed two points, but with four games against the Devils and Sabres (eight points on the line) that should help get over the line. The Devils have been particularly poor of late going 0-9-1 on their last ten.

I know Islanders fans are now scared of the Boston Bruins, but after their post-trade deadline line surge they’ve cooled off. They’re on a two-game losing streak including a 6-4 loss to the Buffalo Sabres.

The Islanders have had the Rangers number for most of the year in 2021. Their last outing say the Isles come away with a strong 6-1 win thanks to play from the Beau-Pageau-Bailey line.

There should be no worry that the Islanders can pick up eight points from an available 16 points. Yes, the Isles haven’t looked great recently, but they have the quality to pull this off even if they aren’t at their best.

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