With All-Star weekend officially starting for the New York Islanders, it’s clear that they have made some significant progress in trying to get back into a playoff spot. Just a couple of ice chips for everyone to soak in:
1. The Isles are on pace for 89 points. Around the time the Isles had completed their 30th game, I was still convinced they could reach somewhere between 90-95 points.
2. I was also worried that 90-95 points may not be enough to get them into the playoffs. However, with the carousel of teams(Carolina, Philly, Boston) occupying the final wild card slot since Philadelphia’s winning streak and not holding on to that pace, it appears that the Islanders will need to be better if they want to lock it up. The one thing the Islanders have over the other teams is depth and with the players buying into Doug Weights philosophy, there should be enough left in this marathon to outlast the rest of the squads.
3. Having said that, beware of the Florida teams as they are getting back returning players and are looking healthier by the day.
4. Having games in hand is not necessarily a good thing. Yes, the Isles have three in hand against the Flyers, but they are the ones in the final playoff spot. It would seem to put more pressure on the Isles to win and it makes the fans feel like every game is a must win. To be truthful, since the Isles made the correct personnel moves with around 35 games to go, there’s still time for the Islanders to do their thing and as I stated in number 2, may end up securing the spot anyways.
5. The Islanders are on pace for 243 goals scored this season. I’m getting lazy here, but I believe there has only been (at most) 2 times in recent years where they have scored 240 or more goals and not made the playoffs. You’ll have to go back to the mid 2000’s to find out.
6. Also, the Islanders are also even in the goal differential at this stage of the season. Usually teams with a positive goal differential (GF-GA=GD) make the playoffs, which is why I’m suggesting not to worry about the games in hand so soon.
7. You’re not going to listen, but I’m going to write this anyways: Don’t look at the standings. Here’s why.
WC Flyers: 92 point Pace
9. Islanders 89 point pace
10. Boston 88
11. Florida 85
12. Carolina 84
13. Buffalo 84
14. Detroit 82
15. Tampa 82
16. Devils 80
You don’t even need to know about the other teams ahead of the Flyers, it’s literally down to this group barring an implosion over in Toronto. Every team is still in the playoff race. If there wasn’t a trade deadline, you probably wouldn’t see these teams get eliminated until game 70, which puts you somewhere in mid March. However, with the trade deadline roughly a month away, you may start to see a few small trades begin to take shape and that will either trigger the major ones in or around the deadline or it’s a setup for the draft. Either way, the time to really look at the standings and buying stuff that will help you with stress will be after the trade deadline.
8. Speaking of the trade deadline, in my next article I’ll go over whether the Islanders should be buyers or sellers.