New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, Ryan Pulock, Prudential Center
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

While it was undeniably satisfying for the New York Islanders aces to play spoiler to the yet-to-clinch Flyers, it only hurts them where it ultimately matters most.

  • New York Islanders 5 (33-37-10, 76 pts)
  • Philadelphia Flyers 4 (40-26-14, 94 pts)
  • NHL, Metro, Final, Box Score
  • Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York

As impressive as it was, a 5-4 spoiler win over the Philadelphia Flyers only complicates the New York Islanders long-term plans.

The overall game was nothing but excitement, the Isles jumped off to the early lead on a powerplay tally from John Tavares, his first of two on the night. Mathew Barzal‘s assist on Tavares’ goal gave him his 60th assist and his 82nd point — significant for the following two reasons: 1) No rookie has finished with 60 assists in their first season since Sidney Crosby did in 2006-07 with 63, and 2) Barzal is destined to finish the season scoring no less than a point-per-game pace.

Anthony Beauvillier also put away his 20th goal of the season, marking the sophomore’s first 20-goal campaign in the NHL. Beauvillier’s three-point night gives him 35 points on the season.

Stats aside, this does the Islanders no favors.

All About the Lottery

As of right now, any wins for the Islanders in the 2017-18 season mean nothing. Yes, even this Thursday’s home closer against the arch-rival New York Rangers is expendable. Allow me to clarify: No team should ever try and lose a game, but at this point, the losses can only offer more help than they’d get otherwise. It’s very rare that fans — especially Isles fans — genuinely want to discuss the draft every year. At this point, it’s all the Isles have left to hope for.

The Islanders currently sit with 76 points on the season at 23rd overall in the NHL, while both Edmonton and Chicago have 74 points.

If the Isles can lose out their remaining games while gaining no points, and both Edmonton and Chicago can pull off at least one win each with Edmonton winning in regulation, then the Isles would descend two positions to 25th.

If the Isles had lost to the Flyers in regulation, they would still be eligible to finish 26th overall where Detroit currently stands if Detroit wins out.

Breaking Down the Matchups

It may seem like a tall order, but it’s far more achievable than you might think. The Isles next two games are against the Rangers and Red Wings, two teams that are in the same echelon as the Isles regarding standings.

Historically speaking, the Islanders own the Rangers with a 13-3-0 record since the start of the 2014-15 season, but the Rangers are looking to avoid what would be the second season sweep in the last three seasons from the Isles. Still, that dominance speaks for itself and the fact that both teams could only muster three wins in their last 10 games says a lot about where they are.

The Blackhawks will face the St. Louis Blues and the Winnipeg Jets. The Hawks will be desperate to keep the Blues, who are the outlier of four teams still competing for a playoff spot. With no shortage of motivation and no real stress on the line, it’s a good opportunity for the Blackhawks to handle a team on its last legs.

The Oilers will play the Pacific Division champion Golden Knights, who by all means should be resting their top guns for the playoffs. With no reason to risk injury to any of their studs, and the once white-hot Knights are a more tame 5-3-2 in their last 10 games. The Oilers are in prime position to deliver a W.

When it’s dissected, there’s realistically a very good shot for the Islanders to get a lot of help in ascending up the draft ladder.

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