New York Islanders
(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The New York Islanders can clinch a playoff spot as early as Thursday, after defeating the Coyotes 2-0 on Sunday.

Justin Weiss

With a 4-2 victory over the Flyers on Saturday afternoon, the New York Islanders‘ magic number sits at eight with six games left to play after today.

The Isles can clinch a trip to the postseason as early as Tuesday, according to statistician Eric Hornick of NYI Skinny.

For that to happen, the Islanders need a pair of favorable results this afternoon: a win over the Coyotes at 3 p.m. ET, and a Blue Jackets loss to the Canucks at 10 p.m. ET.

That would set up a Columbus-New York showdown at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday evening. If the Islanders win that in regulation, they will be back on their way to the playoffs for the first time since the 2015-16 season.

The Islanders were projected by many to finish with the worst record in the entire league. After all, they had just lost their star captain in free agency and hadn’t signed a replacement — or anyone noteworthy, for that matter.

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Instead, with nearly $10 million in cap space, the Isles entered the 2018-19 campaign with low expectations and an especially ineffective defense.

In his first few months as head coach, reigning Stanley Cup champion Barry Trotz all but locked up his second Jack Adams Award, after installing a structured defense and going from last to first in goals-against average.

Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss have both enjoyed the best seasons of their careers in net, with both ranking in the top-5 in save percentage.

Scoreboard Watching

With 93 points through 75 games, the Islanders are just one point back of the Metropolitan Division lead. In the past few weeks, the Penguins have shot up the standings and are now tied with the Isles for second place, albeit with one more game played.

The Islanders own a magic number of 12 over the Pens.

Here are the current Metropolitan Division standings:

  1. Capitals: 94 points/75 games (39 ROW)
  2. Islanders: 93 points/75 games (39 ROW)
  3. Penguins: 93 points/76 games (39 ROW)
  4. Hurricanes: 89 points/74 games (39 ROW)
  5. Blue Jackets: 84 points/74 games (39 ROW)

These are the upcoming schedules for the teams in the mix with the Islanders:

WASHINGTON: 3/24 vs. PHI; 3/26 vs. CAR; 3/28 @ CAR; 3/30 @ TBL; 4/1 @ FLA; 4/4 vs. MTL; 4/6 vs. NYI

NEW YORK: 3/24 vs. ARI; 3/26 @ CBJ; 3/28 @ WPG; 3/30 vs. BUF; 4/1 vs. TOR; 4/4 @ FLA; 4/6 @ WSH

PITTSBURGH: 3/25 @ NYR; 3/29 vs. NSH; 3/31 vs. CAR; 4/2 @ DET; 4/4 vs. DET; 4/6 vs. NYR

CAROLINA: 3/24 vs. MTL; 3/26 @ WSH; 3/28 vs. WSH; 3/30 vs. PHI; 3/31 @ PIT; 4/2 @ TOR; 4/4 vs. NJD; 4/6 @ PHI

COLUMBUS: 3/24 @ VAN; 3/26 vs. NYI; 3/28 vs. MTL; 3/30 @ NSH; 3/31 @ BUF; 4/2 vs. BOS; 4/5 @ NYR; 4/6 @ OTT

UPDATE (03/24): With a 2-0 victory over the Coyotes on Sunday afternoon, the Islanders are now just five points away from locking up a postseason appearance. With a win over Columbus on Tuesday night, the Islanders could bridge that gap to two points.

UPDATE (03/26): With a 4-0 loss to the Blue Jackets on Tuesday evening, the Islanders are still five points away from locking up a postseason appearance. The club can now clinch a spot in the playoffs as early as Saturday.

Justin Weiss is a staff editor at Elite Sports New York, where he covers the New York Islanders and Brooklyn Cyclones. In 2016, he received a Quill Award for Freelance Journalism. He has written for the Long Island Herald, FanSided and YardBarker.