Look now, the New York Islanders are playing at a playoff pace of late. Since December 1, the Islanders hold a 5-2-4 record. Good for a .636 point percentage in those eleven games.
If you rewind to a month ago, the narrative around the Isles was that if they were going to make the playoff by the end of the year they needed to play at a much better pace than they were on. A line of ~95 points is likely what is needed for any Eastern Conference team to get into the playoffs.
By November 30, the Isles held a 5-10-2 record for 12 points. Needing another 83 points over their next 65 games meant a 0.638 points percentage was likely necessary to get into the playoffs. At 0.636 over the last month, they're right there. They are playing at a playoff pace.
New York Islanders playing at playoff pace
The Islanders point pace of late is better than most teams in the league and, specifically, in the Eastern Conference. Their 0.636 points-percentage is 12th best in the NHL and 7th best in the Eastern Conference.
When it comes to playoff teams the Isles pace is better than two teams above the Wild Card line in the East. The New York Rangers (0.625 pts%) and the Detroit Red Wings (0.444 pts%). That last one is the one that every Islanders fan is interested in.
The Red Wings hold the final Wild Card spot in the East. They're seven points up on the Islanders, but the Isles hold four games in hand on them. Assuming New York continues to hold their current pace over those four games in hand, they'd pick up five points from a possible eight. Bridging the gap from seven points to just two.
And with the way the Red Wings are playing (sub-500), picking up those two extra points over them seems likely.
But, you'll rightfully point out that the Islanders don't have to just beat out the Red Wings to get into the playoffs but all of the teams ahead of them as well. With a win against the Edmonton Oilers on New Year's day, the Islanders leapfrogged the Buffalo Sabres thanks to a better RW (regulation wins), but still have the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets, and New Jersey Devils ahead of them.
Those four teams, just like the Islanders are trying to catch the Red Wings for that last playoff spot. So how are all of those teams ahead of them doing?
Boston: 0.625 pts%
Philadelphia: 0.500 pts%
Columbus: 0.350 pts%
New Jersey: 0.292 pts%
The Islanders are playing at a better pace than all of them. But that Boston pace is pretty darn close to the Isles. Now consider that the Bruins are one of two teams in the entire league who've played fewer games than the Isles (Colorado is the other team) and Boston now becomes the team to watch.
Clearly, catching Detroit is a must, but Boston seems to be the team that could spoil things for the Isles playoff chase.
There are still a few months left on the season but those months will be packed with games. The Isles still have to play 54 games over the next 116 days (the last game of the season is on April 28th vs. Tampa). So the Isles will essentially play once every 2.15 days. It's actually worse if you consider the ten-day break they're currently on. That days-between-games line is more like 1.94 days between games.
Consider their recent playoff run in 2021 saw them play 19 games over 40 days, that's a game every 2.11 days. So, assuming the NHL doesn't extend the regular season, the Isles will be in a more grueling run of games than a playoff run. *gulp*