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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New York could be peaking at the right time

While the Islanders couldn’t extend their seven-game winning streak and suffered back-to-back shutouts, their recent outburst showed that they could still be peaking when they need to the most. Before their winning streak, New York was a mediocre 23-20-14, with a minus-28 goal differential, and they were operating at barely a point per game. 

That has since changed, as New York sits at a 29-22-14 record with 72 points, and they recently passed the Detroit Red Wings for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. While it’s true the Islanders could fall back into mediocrity, they could also be that team this season who was rather even-keel throughout most of the regular season until it mattered the most. 

This time of the year also features no easy wins, regardless of who a team plays. New York will either face playoff contenders, teams looking to jump into one of those two wild card spots, or teams that are all but eliminated from contention and will look to spoil another team’s postseason aspirations. But thanks to their recent surge and despite the recent shutout losses, the Isles have shown they can overcome a lot when the stakes get high. 

For playoff contenders that have hit turbulence in March, like the Red Wings, it’s not a good situation to be in. But for teams like the Islanders that have been hot since late February, it’s ideal if they are indeed peaking.