New York Islanders Playoff Push: Down the Stretch They Come
The New York Islanders just have 11 games left after finishing a successful California trip where they picked up two wins and four points. Believe it or not, there is less than a month left in the regular season (Isle's last regular season game is April 12th).
Heading into Sunday's March 19th action, the Islanders find themselves occupying the first wild card with 80 Points. The Pittsburgh Penguins are in the second wild card spot with 78 Points and the Florida Panthers are just on the outside with 77 Points. However, both squads have two games in hand on the blue and orange.
The Washington Capitals are closest after that with 73 Points (even in games played with the Islanders after Sunday's loss in Minnesota) followed by the Buffalo Sabres (72 Points & 2 Games in Hand after Sunday's 7-0 shellacking against the Boston Bruins) and the Ottawa Senators (71 Points & 2 Games in Hand).
Isles Remaining Schedule
Of the Isles remaining 11 games, six are at home and 5 are on the road. They have two back-to-back situations remaining (at Columbus then home to Buffalo & at Tampa and at Carolina).
Their home games are against Toronto, Buffalo, New Jersey, Tampa, Philadelphia, and Montreal. Their road games are against Columbus, Tampa, Carolina, and Washington twice.
Every game and every point is precious so each remaining game has to be viewed as a playoff game.
Pittsburgh & Florida & The Rest
Of the Peniguns remaining 12 games, six are on the road, where they have a mediocre record of 15-15-5. This coming week Pittsburgh has a tough back-to-back road scenario in Colorado and Dallas. They also still have Boston on their schedule as well as Ottawa and Washington.
Of the Panthers remaining 12 games six are on the road, where they have a sub-par record of 15-17-3. Florida faces Toronto three times in their final games (let's go John Tavares) as well as the New York Rangers. Islander fans will be rooting for teams they normally despise. Florida also has Ottawa two more times and one more with Buffalo as well.
The Capitals, Sabres, and Senators have an uphill battle trying to catch up. These teams are going to have to go on a big roll to finish the season to give themselves a chance at the last wild card spot. All three clubs have points to make up and have to pass two teams in the standings between the Isles, Penguins, and Panthers, as well as each other.
If the Islanders can continue their strong play (8-3-1 in the last 12) they have an excellent shot of printing playoff tickets.