To most, the New York Islanders are already cooked. With 13 points from 18 games, the Isles find themselves 12 points back of a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. They're well out of it as it stands right now.
BUT, the Isles do have five games in hand on the Pittsburgh Penguins (they have the final wild card spot in the East). So there's still a chance for the Isles to make it. Key to that push is the four games following their exit from a COVID-postponement.
If the Islanders could get three wins from four games, they'd be back in a good spot. Not in a playoff spot per se, but much closer than they were before. With an OTL against the Sharks in that first game, the Isles now face the Detroit Red Wings in the second post-postponement game, which is now a must-win game.
New York Islander are already in "must-win" portion of the season
We'll hear that a lot going forward "must-win". Because that's where the Islanders find themselves now; in a constant "must-win" situation. And while at the start of the year we all would have thought that a game against the Red Wings would have been the closest thing to a guaranteed win, it will be anything but that.
The Red Wings are good this year. Their crop of hyper-talented young guns are proving to be quite NHL ready. Lucas Raymond leads all rookies in scoring with 22 points, defenseman Moritz Seider is fourth in scoring for rookies, and Alex Nedeljkovic (still considered a rookie) is still just as good as he was last year.
This team that Steve Yzerman has assembled (in short order) is already leaps and bounds better than it was last year. And they welcome the 0-9-1 New York Islanders to the Motor City on a four game winning streak.
This is a meeting of a young, hyper-talented, and confident team vs. a vet-heavy group that hasn't been playing their true game for a long time, and is quite low on confidence at the moment.
Today's game isn't going to be as easy as we all thought it might be in September. That makes this "must-win" game a much tougher prospect.