In their final 13 games of the season, Doug Weight and the New York Islanders know that the playoffs are a longshot — but who’s saying they’re done trying?Facing elimination head-on, the New York Islanders refuse to fall without a fight.
In their final 13 games of the season, the Islanders know they have to win almost all of those contests starting at home on the front-end of a back-to-back series Thursday night against the Washington Capitals. When talking to Newsday’s Andrew Gross, Cal Clutterbuck stated the following:
“We’re in a position now where we can kind of allow instincts to take over,” Clutterbuck said. “We’ve got nothing to lose in this situation now. I think that sometimes promotes a little more confident play. Sometimes, it creates results.”
Nine of their final 13 games will be at the Barclays Center, where they will attempt to chase one of Columbus, New Jersey, Florida or Carolina for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Currently, the Blue Jackets and Devils have 79 and 78 points, respectively. The Panthers are just three points back of the final spot after putting together an unprecedented run, and the Hurricanes sit one point ahead of the Islanders’ 70. The Isles and Devils both have a game in hand over the Jackets and Canes, however, the Panthers have at least two games in hand over their other playoff hopefuls.
The Islanders have won just two of their last 10 (2-4-4), making a playoff comeback even more unprecedented. But for those still clinging to hope, there is a convoluted path the Isles can still — yes, still — take to get to the postseason.
These are the remaining schedules of all four teams in order:
- Islanders: vs. WSH, @ WSH*, vs CAR, vs PIT, vs TBL, vs CHI, vs FLA, @ OTT*, vs TOR, @ NJD*, vs PHI, vs NYR, @ DET
- Devils: @ VGK, @ LAK, @ ANA, @ SJS, @ PIT, vs TBL*, vs CAR, vs PIT, vs NYI, @ MTL, vs NYR, vs TOR, @ WSH
- Jackets: @ PHI, vs OTT, @ BOS, @ NYR*, vs FLA, vs STL, @ EDM, @ CGY, @ VAN, vs DET, vs PIT, @ NSH
- Canes: vs PHI, @ NYI*, vs EDM, vs ARI, @ OTT, vs OTT, @ NJD*, @ WSH, vs NYR*, @ FLA, @ PHI, vs TBL
- Panthers: vs BOS, vs EDM, @ MTL, @ OTT*, @ CBJ, vs ARI, @ NYI, @ TOR, @ OTT*, @ BOS, vs CAR, vs NSH*, vs BOS, vs BUF, @ BOS*
*Indicates a back-to-back game.
The most notable distinctions arise when looking at the Panthers’ and Devils’ schedules. The Devils play their next five games on the road (including the tour of California other teams already endured), and come back home on a back-to-back to play the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Panthers may have the most games in hand, however, they also have the most back-to-back games of the other four teams with only one on home ice and the last one occurring on the last day of the regular season against Boston.
In terms of playing against teams who, as of today, are not in the playoff race, the Panthers and Jackets both lucked out as they have to play eight non-playoff teams during that stretch too. This compares well against the seven for Carolina, six for the Islanders and just five for the Devils.
One Final Push
As for playing against each other, the Islanders will see the Hurricanes, Panthers and Devils at least once during their final stretch — so count all three of those as concrete “must-win” games.
It’s never good for a playoff team to rely on others to lose, but this is the situation the Islanders have put themselves in. It doesn’t matter how they got here or how many opportunities they blew: all of that can be harped on once the season is over. What matters now is that the Islanders take it one game at a time, one period at a time, one shift at a time
To quote the late, great Yogi Berra “it ain’t over till it’s over”, and for the Islanders, the math is still there.
It’s not over … yet.