New York Islanders Morning Insight, 3/30/17: Do or Die
/Mar 24, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) makes a save against New York Islanders left wing Anders Lee (27) during the third period at the PPG PAINTS Arena. The Islanders won 4-3 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Islanders’ playoff aspirations hinge on Thursday night’s contest with the Philadelphia Flyers.

As cliché as it sounds, it all comes down to this.

We discussed on Wednesday that the Islanders squandered multiple opportunities last week to run away with the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Consequently, they trail the Boston Bruins by four points, with a game in hand.

This makes Thursday night’s contest with the Philadelphia Flyers so crucial. According to the website Playoff Status, which tracks teams’ chances of making the postseason, the Isles need to win six of their last seven to have legitimate odds of qualifying.

Last time out… the Isles lost their second straight, this time to the Nashville Predators. For the fifth consecutive game, the contest was decided by a mere goal.

Isles-Flyers… Philadelphia defeated the Isles in their first two meetings, 3-2 in the shootout and 3-2 in overtime, before New York retaliated with a 3-1 win in February.

Lines and stuff… Johnny Boychuk will return to the lineup Thursday, while Thomas Greiss will be in net. The rest of the defensemen are unknown, however.

Philadelphia… kinda fell off the radar for a couple of weeks, but have won two straight and three of their last four. Like the Isles, they’re competing for a playoff spot.

NOTES

Bryan Saur wonders about the whereabouts of defenseman Ryan Pulock, who has spent the season in Bridegport despite his potential and offensive prowess. Said Saur, “The Islanders power play has been atrocious all season long … we all know that. What can be done to make it effective these last seven games of the year? How about calling up top defensive prospect Ryan Pulock, who’s been patiently waiting in Bridgeport?”

Steven Marcus of Newsday confirms what we’ve known for a while: the Isles’ final seven games will be their most crucial, and the players are ready for the challenge. “Every game is so important right now, regardless of where we’re playing or who we’re playing, we’re a desperate hockey team,’’ captain John Tavares was quoted as saying.


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