Even without Matt Duchene, the New York Islanders are in the thick of a playoff hunt.
Regardless of what happened (or didn’t happen, for that matter) at the trade deadline, the Islanders’ fate will still—even without Matt Duchene or Gabriel Landeskog—be determined by the team’s nine-game road trip.
As Yogi Berra famously coined, ‘It ain’t over ’til it’s over.’
The Isles’ recent run—since head coach Doug Weight took over the reigns, the team has catapulted from last in the conference to a mere point out of the final wild card spot—has taken the backseat as fans have bickered about Garth Snow’s no-show at the deadline (despite a flurry of rumors, the general manager didn’t make any trades).
But this shouldn’t be the case, as the Isles are on the brink of making the dance.
And as we’ve seen plenty of times before, anything can happen in April.
Such as… Anders Lee and Josh Bailey continuing to bounce-back from an underwhelming 2015-16 campaign. The former battled injuries (he was sidelined with a broken fibula) and inconsistencies (when he was kept off the statsheet, he just didn’t do enough of the little things to make his impact felt) before turning the corner—again—for the Isles. The later has been ridiculed for being a so-called bust (he was taken ninth overall in 2008), but has enjoyed a career season (he’s already recorded a career-high in points with twenty games remaining).
Such as… Doug Weight’s message continuing to resonate. Newsday‘s Arthur Staple has reported that Weight really hasn’t changed much systematically, so the only logical conclusion is that the guys are embracing his new message. That’s led to, well… success.
Such as… Thomas Greiss heating up again and single-handedly carrying New York to the second round of the postseason. Since inking the veteran netminder to a three-year contract extension, he’s been Jekyll and Hyde—he’ll give up six goals one night and shut out the opposition the next. But… if he goes on a tear, he’s not going to be stopped.
Such as… Joshua Ho-Sang realizing his full potential and dazzling in blue and orange. He’s making his NHL debut Thursday night, when he’ll showcase his outstanding vision and deft playmaking ability. If he can transition from Bridgeport (AHL) to Brooklyn and avoid the off-ice extracurricular activities, the Isles could have a budding star.