3 reasons why the Islanders can hang onto a wild card spot and make the NHL playoffs

Three-quarters of the way through the 2023-24 season, the New York Islanders remain one of a few bubble teams trying to break into the NHL playoffs.

Mar 14, 2024; Buffalo, New York, USA;  New York Islanders defenseman Sebastian Aho (25) takes a shot
Mar 14, 2024; Buffalo, New York, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Sebastian Aho (25) takes a shot / Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
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Has any other team in the NHL been through more of a roller coaster than the New York Islanders have this season? When the calendar year began, the Isles were just 17-10-9, and they held a three point lead in the wild card race. It wasn’t a great showing, but New York at least looked like a legitimate playoff contender. 

Then, the new year came, and the Isles struggled, going 6-10-5 between January 1st and February 24th, and they looked finished. But some strong defensive showings led to what became a seven-game winning streak, and the Isles looked like a team that had regained control of its destiny, at least for the moment. 

While their streak ended in shutout losses to the Los Angeles Kings and Buffalo Sabres, New York nonetheless played well enough to once again sit in a wild card spot with roughly one month to go in the regular season. And considering their recent momentum shift, it’s one of three reasons the Isles could be doing enough to hold onto at least that wild card spot and return to the NHL playoffs. 

Islanders could easily hang onto a wild card spot for the 2024 NHL playoffs

Sure, the upcoming schedule looks rough, with a couple of games coming up against the two best teams in the Metropolitan Division before they play a few sound contenders in the Atlantic, plus one of the Western Conference’s better groups. Despite the brutal schedule, however, the Islanders have shown fans and critics they can overcome these looming obstacles. 

No, their advanced analytics at 5-on-5 won’t impress many fans, nor will their ability to play special teams, as their power play is a solid but unspectacular 13th in the league, while their penalty kill is another story. But there are three qualities this team has that could help them parlay their recent success into another postseason appearance.