It's the final game of the New York Islanders current five-game swing out west. And they head to Colorado where the best team in the NHL awaits them.
Through this road trip, the Islanders have looked surprisingly well outside of a rough outing in Los Angeles. They've gone 2-1-1 so far. That's three of six points. Sure, a .500 win percentage doesn't sound great. But that's better than they've been so far.
Through 49 games they've picked up points at a 0.490 rate. Getting a 0.500 return (and hopefully more) on the road would be outstanding.
New York Islanders take on the best team in the league
Can the Islanders take two points from the best team in the league? Well on paper they can't. Colorado is 22-3-2 at home and the Islanders are 10-11-4 on the road. The Avs hold a +44 goal differential at home while the Isles are -10 on the road.
And the Islanders are still (possibly) without the services of Mathew Barzal and Zdeno Chara for this one.
And while the Isles looked good enough against the San Jose Sharks with both out of the lineup, the Colorado Avalanche is a different beast altogether. As evidenced by Colorado's 39-10-4 record and 82 points to lead the NHL and that home record I previously mentioned.
How can the Islanders win against these odds? They have to put up a strong defensive game, something they've done against the Boston Bruins and Seattle Kraken recently. Without that the game is lost no matter what they do offensively.
If they can play their defensive game while adding some timely offense they'll get the win. That last part is a big "if" of course. The Islanders aren't much of an offensive team even with Mathew Barzal on the ice. They're much less of an offensive team without him.
But, if they can get their defensive structure right they might just be able to work out that second part.