NY Islanders feel back-to-back wins have them "in the hunt" for a playoff spot

Vegas Golden Knights v New York Islanders
Vegas Golden Knights v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

To varying degrees, the New York Islanders fanbase is feeling more optimistic about the team's playoff chances following back-to-back wins on Friday and Saturday nights.

After the 2-1 OT win over the Vegas Golden Knights, the Isles were two points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second-Wild Card spot, with the Pens having three games in hand. Between them and Pittsburgh are the upstart Buffalo Sabres with 56 points, one more than the Isles, and four games in hand. The Washington Capitals, currently in seventh, have a three-point edge on the Isles with just one game in hand.

Things are better, but they're still far from great. Yet if things went the other way the last two games, it would be hard to make any compelling argument heading into the break that this team could make a run of any kind when they return to the ice on Feb. 6 in Philadelphia

That was huge. It kind of puts us right back in the hunt so I’m sure we’re going to be hungry to have a good start off the break.
Mathew Barzal after 2-1 OT win

Looking ahead, the Islanders next five games provide an opportunity to finally go on an extended winning streak and recoup a lot of the points they relinquished during the the 11 game stretch when they went 1-7-3. Four of the five teams they play are behind them in the standings (@ PHI on 2/6, vs SEA 2/7, vs VAN 2/9, @ MTL 2/11 and vs OTT 2/14).

When this stretch is over, management will need to take a good hard look at where they are in the standings. The following six games will all be against teams in playoff position, including two against the Pittsburgh Penguins. If they haven't made up considerable ground immediately following the break, they'll be running out of time and opportunity afterward given the schedule.

“We’re not far behind. That’s the first thing,” head coach Lane Lambert said of the team's chances to get back in playoff position. “The second thing is that we went through a tough patch, and we’re coming out of it. When we play the way we did [Friday] and play the way we did [Saturday], we can have a lot of success.”