The NY Islanders mediocre season now faced with nearly insurmountable playoff odds

Mar 19, 2024; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech (3) and Carolina
Mar 19, 2024; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech (3) and Carolina / Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

If you're an eternal New York Islanders optimist (and we know there are still some of you out there), we get the feeling you're feeling rather alone these days.

There are 11 games left in the season, and the team's playoff odds are somewhere in the single digits after losing seven of eight games (1-6-1) and falling six points behind the Washington Capitals for the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. That deficit is really seven, considering they won't have a tie-breaker against any team they're chasing due to their lack of ROW wins. They're also chasing the Detroit Red Wings (79 points) and even the New Jersey Devils, who have moved a point ahead of the Isles, though they have played two more games.

MoneyPuck has their chances at 4.6%, The Athletic has them at a more encouraging 17%. Hockey-Reference says the likelihood is 8.5%. Overall, we can say, the chances are not very good.

Realistically, the Islanders need 16 to 18 points over these last 11 games and probably some help to make the postseason. That's asking one of the most inconsistent and befuddling teams in the league to play a consistent, mistake-free, solid defense, strong goaltending, and opportunistic power play game for the next three weeks. What are the chances of that happening?

The Islanders have taken the ice for 71 games, and 41 times they've skated off losing. We can argue the merits of the "loser point" all we want, but that gives you a perspective of just how mediocre they have been this season. They lost seven in a row earlier this season (0-4-3), and the end of that streak overlapped with a stretch where they recorded a point in 14 of 15 games (9-1-5). Then, more recently, they followed up a season-changing six-game winning streak with a season-demoralizing six-game losing streak. Only these Islanders.

Too often, we looked at the good moments and thought those were more indicative of the team this group could and should be. We'd explain away the mental mistakes, the head-scratching miscues, and so-so efforts. Surely, those issues were all temporary and would get cleaned up! Only they never did, but rather would get covered up by some great individual performances from time to time. Just as quickly as they started to bring it all together, they lost it after facing adversity that shook the confidence they had built up on a shaky foundation.

Tonight's game in Florida against the talented Panthers is the start of their last stand.

They're desperate for two points, but desperation hasn't always coincided with desperate effort this season. It's a loss, and things start to look insurmountable, even with 10 games remaining in what has been a volatile race for the last playoff spot. In the end, we may look back at this season as a year of missed opportunities, one with as many ups and downs as we could remember, but that's what mediocrity is, and mediocre is what the Islanders have been this season.