The NY Islanders have the easiest strength of schedule of teams in Wild Card race

Detroit Red Wings v New York Islanders
Detroit Red Wings v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

If you can't help yourself but look at playoff probability models, you'll see that the Islanders' chances, while still shy of 50% across the board, are looking better. Winning will do that, but it's also because of how those models forecast each team's remaining schedules.

Of the teams in contention for the final two playoff positions in the Eastern Conference, the Islanders have the easiest strength of schedule, according to Tankathon. The Islanders have 17 games left and will only play seven of them against teams that currently occupy a playoff position. Those games include the Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, Tampa Bay Lightning (twice), Toronto Maple Leafs, and Los Angeles Kings. There is also one game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Much of the focus when gazing at the latest Wild Card standings has been on games in hand, with the Buffalo Sabres entering Monday night's game with the Edmonton trailing the Islanders by four points with four games in hand. But among the 21 games remaining, including the one tonight versus Connor McDavid's Oilers, the Sabres have to play the league-best Boston Bruins, the explosive Devils twice, the Maple Leafs, Dallas Stars, and the New York Rangers three times.

There's statistical probabilities and then there's playing the games and sometimes, it's not a matter of who you, but when you play them. Islanders have watched in recent weeks, seemingly tough games against the Lightning end up as a pair of wins for the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Sabres also had success against a Tampa Bay team that at least for the moment, is showing signs of attrition catching up with them after three straight trips to the Stanley Cup Final.

There's a lot of scoreboard-watching in our future, but the Islanders are in a better position today than they were two weeks ago. All the models are saying it, but more importantly, what we're watching on the ice in recent weeks is saying it as well.