The New York Islanders can clinch a playoff spot as early as Thursday, after defeating the Coyotes 2-0 on Sunday.
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.
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.
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:
- Capitals: 94 points/75 games (39 ROW)
- Islanders: 93 points/75 games (39 ROW)
- Penguins: 93 points/76 games (39 ROW)
- Hurricanes: 89 points/74 games (39 ROW)
- 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.