The New York Islanders clinched a playoff spot a few days ago against the Washington Capitals and are going for the second year in a row and their third year in four. A gutsy player performance and a coach, whose job mayor may not still be on the line, finally called out a few players and the team responded after they had a team-only meeting before the game. Before I continue about who the first round opponent could be, there was a reason why I have not written in a while and I wanted to discuss this. I have written this all season long: Don’t look at the point standings alone, look at and play the percentages or point pace. In doing so, many would’ve been much more relaxed like I was about a team just making it to the playoffs. There are a few fans (and a few in the blogosphere) that were still concerned about the Islanders not making the playoffs. Do me a favor and help those people, get them an emotional support or better yet, bring them here so that they can discover Isles Talk, especially if their parents raised them as Jets fans because the emotional beat down they’ve inflicted on themselves is just not necessary.
The way it’s looking, the Flyers or Boston may need 95 points to clinch a playoff spot. Folks, the Islanders at one point during the season were on a 94 point pace for a whole 4 days….Read that sentence again until it sinks in. For the remaining 78 games the Islanders were always between 96-101 points (now at 101). There was never a large fear here unless your just looking at the point standings without the games in hand. Come to Isles Talk more often and read the articles from Gary, John and myself. Listen to our future podcasts to give yourselves a little more relief instead of some of the unnecessary drama that is written, spoken or tweeted. If the Islanders were going to miss the playoffs, we, or better yet, I would have told you. In 2014 when the Isles missed the playoffs, I told you in January. This year we told you that the Islanders were going to make the playoffs at the trade deadline. So please come here more often or tweet us or ask us on our Facebook page.
Now that doesn’t mean the Islanders have played their best hockey. To be brutally truthful, before beating the Caps the last good complete game the Islanders played was against the Minnesota Wild in late February, but they are on a good run heading into the playoffs. The Islanders are now on a 6-2 run in their last 8 games. For the second half of the season, they are 22-12-4, which is good for a 104 point pace, better that last half’s 98 points. So despite the injuries that every team cannot get away from this year, the Islanders are showing a good finish to a season instead of stumbling like they did last year. So speaking of and injuries and finishing up the year, it looks like we may get to see the youngsters like Ryan Pulock and Scott Mayfield get some more ice time in the last three games. That to me is a good thing so that they get used to practices and some game time experience before a very important first round matchup and it keeps the veterans as healthy as possible going in.
Who the Islanders play may be determined tonight when they visit the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. It’s simple: if the Rangers win, they play the Penguins in the first round and it seems that the Islanders first round opponent will be the Florida Panthers. If the Islanders win tonight, then the they may have to win their remaining games and the Rangers would have to lose once in regulation to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins. There will not any kind of home ice advantage for the Islanders in the first round, something that hasn’t happened since 1988. Many people want the Florida Panthers as a first round opponent and that Atlantic Division bracket, but there a few fans who believe that the Penguins will not score as they have during this recent surge once the playoffs begin and the Pens may actually cool off giving their opponents a better chance. For me, it’s been since 1993 that I’ve witnessed the Islanders go beyond the first round. For many, they’ve never seen an Islanders second round. I don’t care who they play, they just have to win. I don’t care if Jack has to call out players again or how many players-only meetings need to be scheduled or how many goalies they need to bring up anymore. These Islanders players have been here before. They’ve experienced a heartbreaking series loss at home. They’ve experienced a game 7 series defeat. It’s time for them to take control of their own destinies and win a series and for once, for them, for the suffering fans and to give someone else a lesson.
Write in the comment section of who you want the Isles to play in the first round.