The New York Islanders, having tied a few teams with the most games played this season at 71, get a much needed break this week when they face off against the Chicago Black Hawks and the New Jersey Devils this week, giving the team some much needed rest and practice time. For fans, it’s all about the standings. Can the Islanders still win the Metropolitan Division? Some are still asking if the Islanders will make the playoffs due to the recent struggles. Well, let’s take a look and go from there.
Remember, I use the percentages and point pace, not the actual points. Having said that, the Isles are on pace for 104 points, currently 6th in the Eastern Conference and 3rd in the Division. The difference between a 3rd place standing and a 6th in the Conference is separated by a whopping 4 points. The current 3rd place team in this conference is Tampa Bay who are on pace for 107. The team ahead of the Islanders for 2nd place in the Division are in fact, the Penguins. They are on pace for 105 points, so as you can read, it’s going to be close. I have never not seen a team that was on pace for over 100 points this late in the season make the playoffs. Even with the recent slump, I would count the Islanders in the playoffs.
Now, here’s the part that most fans won’t want to hear. I don’t think the Isles will win the Metro Division, neither will the Pens. It’s the Rangers to lose. The Rangers are currently on pace for 115 points and that margin is just too far apart with 11 games remaining for the Isles to catch up. If the Isles were to win out, the Rangers would only need 8 wins and an OT loss, and they still have three games in hand. Playing the percentages, Don’t bet on the Isles winning the Division. So, with the President’s trophy no longer an issue, the Division title no longer in their sights, other than the end of the regular season ceremonies at the Coliseum, what do fans have to look forward to in these last 11 regular season games? A LOT!!!
The Isles will still be battling the rest of the teams in the Atlantic Division for 3rd place overall in the Conference. The Canadiens have not fared well against the Lightning and they may yet have to face the Bruins in the first round. That may prove useful if the Islanders get past the first round. Why? So far it looks like the Rangers might face either the Bruins or the Capitals in the first round. I went on record at the Booster Club meeting that I wouldn’t want to face either team that early on. Speaking of first rounds, the Isles will be going after the Penguins for second place in the Metro Division and home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Unless Washington goes on a tear, you’re looking at a rematch from 2013, only this time the Islanders may get the advantage. One round at a time, but start salivating.