It’s starting to feel like 2007 all over again, only this time there’s no Ryan Smyth trade to talk about. The Islanders are now in a position where the playoffs look reachable and we can thank the Devils once again for there generous inability to win with games in hand. Many fans believed every game for the last 5 games were all playoff games and that that every point was crucial. Well, the second half was true, every game from the season opener to the finale are always crucial points, but to say the Islanders were in a playoff race about a week or two ago? Not so fast.The Islanders recent winning certainly helps, but thanks to teams struggling down the stretch we see the Rangers, Devils and Islanders cramped for that 7th and 8th position. Nothing like a metropolitan rivalry right? Of course, but include the Ottawa Senators, who are one of the struggling teams, it appears that the 6th position is also available for those four teams. If there was another team who could sneak in there, I wouldn’t count out the Winnipeg Jets just yet. So with basically the same amount of games played by all of the teams, I would argue that NOW is the time to promote that the Islanders are in a playoff race, starting tonight against Philly and that the loses had by the other teams will certainly be hurting more than a week or so ago when teams had games in hand against the Islanders.
So with the remaining schedule left, it’s very clear, at least to me, that if the Rangers don’t take 6th place, there’s a serious problem with the Blue Shirts. Their schedule is certainly the most favorable and should win the most games out of the teams in contention. The Devils, Senators, and Jets look like they could finish their remaining games around the NHL .500 mark, but each team would need to steal a game or two if they’re going to make any kind of a decent push. So when it comes to the Islanders, only now, starting with the Flyers tonight do they control their own destiny. There’s no waiting for other teams to catch up, and if the Islanders continue to play their game, there won’t be a need to scoreboard watch for much longer and there won’t be enough time for others to keep pace. Hello playoffs?