The NY Islanders were given less than a 5% chance to make the playoffs 10 games ago

Apr 15, 2024; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New York Islanders center Kyle MacLean (32) celebrates his
Apr 15, 2024; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New York Islanders center Kyle MacLean (32) celebrates his / Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Don't ever tell the New York Islanders the odds.

Playoff probability charts aren't an exact science, and many are quick to point out how these models are flawed, but they do provide insight into the likelihood of something happening.

On Mar. 24, the Islanders were shut out at home, 4-0 by the New Jersey Devils. They had just snapped a six-game winless streak with a resounding 6-3 win over the playoff-bound Winnipeg Jets, only to be blanked when Kaapo Kahkonen made 37 saves for his first shutout of the season. You may have blocked that one out of your memory. It was their eighth loss in the last nine games (1-7-1), and by Mar. 27, they found themselves behind the Devils, Detroit Red Wings, Washington Capitals, and Philadelphia Flyers for playoff spots.

Prior to their next game on Mar. 28, gave the Islanders a 4.7% chance of making the postseason. The Flyers were at 85.2%; the Capitals came in at 65.5%, while the Red Wings were finishing a terrible end to March that saw their chances plummet to 29.1% after being ahead of the Islanders by ten points heading into their game on Feb. 29. The Flyers would go winless in eight games (0-6-2) to also aid the Islanders future chances.

Per their website, MoneyPuck playoff odds are determined "by running a simulation of the rest of the NHL season 100,000 times we can create precise probabilities of the outcome of the season for each team. Each game is simulated using the probabilities from the pre-game prediction model. For games further into the future, the model scores are regressed to the mean to account for uncertainty."

We can use the Islanders as an example of why you shouldn't pay attention to playoff probabilities, but that doesn't mean they were wrong. The Islanders have gone 7-0-1 over their last eight games. They defeated the Nashville Predators, a team they NEVER beat; they took three of four points against the President Trophy-winning New York Rangers. Their backup goalie, not their franchise one, Semyon Varlamov, went 5-0-0 in April, allowing just eight goals this month (.946, 1.59 – best in NHL for goalies playing more than 125 minutes).

“Ten games ago, no one really gave us a chance to be part of that playoff picture, and now here we are,” Head Coach Patrick Roy said. “We've secured that third seed, and it's nice to see our guys be rewarded for that hard work.”

None of the above was probable, but that's why you keep playing the games. You win a game, the odds improve, you win another, and they get even better. If you thought that it was probably the Islanders who would make the playoffs ten games ago, you're either the biggest Isles optimist ever or a liar. The important thing is the guys in the dressing room kept believing, kept working, and were rewarded for it.

The odds will undoubtedly be stacked against the Islanders defeating the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs - there's a 100% chance of that. Yet, after pulling off what they just did, beating nearly insurmountable odds, how could you not like their chances?