NY Islanders Might Have to Run the Table to Make the Playoffs
The New York Islanders got some good news on Tuesday night when the Pittsburgh Penguins lost to the New Jersey Devils. This gave the Isles control of their destiny to make the playoffs. However, the Isles might have to run the table to make the playoffs.
Heading into Wednesday's action the Florida Panthers hold the #1 Wild Card slot with 87 Points, the Isles hold the #2 Wild Card Spot with 87 Points followed by the Pittsburgh Penguins currently on the outside looking in with 86 Points. All three teams have played 78 games which means each has four games left.
The Panthers currently hold the tiebreaker over the Islanders because even though each team's ROW is 38, Florida has the second tiebreaker which is the head-to-head record.
The Isles have four games remaining, three of which are at home. The home games are against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Philadelphia Flyers, and the Montreal Canadiens. Their remaining road game is against the Washington Capitals. The Isles have no more back-to-back scenarios.
Tampa will be playing their second game in two nights when they visit UBS Arena on Thursday. They play the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.
Based on Florida's and Pittsburgh's remaining schedule there is a strong possibility if the Isles are going to make the playoffs they will need to win all four games.
The Panthers like the Islanders have three of the final four games at home. They will host the Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Carolina Hurricanes. Their remaining road game is at Washington.
Based on the standings it's possible when the Panthers play Toronto and Carolina those teams will have their playoff seeding locked up. Because of that, there is a good chance that those clubs might rest a number of their key players. Potentially that's a huge advantage the Panthers could have in the wild card race.
The Penguins have two games left both at home and on the road. Their home games are against the Minnesota Wild and the Chicago Blackhawks. Their road games are at the Detroit Red Wings and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Minnesota is still trying to win their division (in a 3-way tie with Colorado & Dallas with 98 Points heading into Wednesday) which would give them one of the top playoff seeds in the West. Steve Yzerman's Red Wings are trying to finish on a strong note as they have won four of their last five including a 7-4 victory over Pittsburgh in Detroit last week.
Columbus and Chicago are interesting scenarios for Pittsburgh. Both teams are playing a lot of young players who are playing very hard and trying to make an impression on the organization. But heading into Wednesday's action Chicago and Columbus are tied with Anaheim with the lowest amount of points (56 Points). The team that finishes last overall will have the best lottery odds of winning the Connor Bedard sweepstakes.
The Isle's margin of error could wind up being zero heading into these final four games. They will have to treat each of the remaining four games like they are Game 7's of the NHL Playoffs.