After the Islanders' recent run of good games, the team finds itself within 6 points of a playoff spot with lots of season left to go.
What would the team need to do to make the playoffs -- or at least be in the hunt -- and how realistic is it? Let's assume that 90 points is enough to earn the team a playoff spot (an aggressive assumption as the 8th spot usually requires 92-93 points). That means the Isles will have to earn 69 points in the remaining 58 games, or approximately 6 points for every 5 games. In other words, 3 wins out of every 5 or 6 wins out of every 10.
While 6 out of 10 doesn't sound too daunting, maintaining that pace over 58 games is a tall order. Given the number of games with teams with superior talent that the Islanders will have hard time beating, winning at a 60% clip leaves little margin for error. That means no extended funks. No leaving "winnable" points on the table. No 20 or 40 minute efforts. To put it into perspective. it means recreating last years' great run (55 points in 46 games) over an even longer period. Note that the only time in the last 10 years that the Islander had a similarly strong stretch of 58 games is 2002-2003, 2003-2004 and 2006-2007. But if Montoya continues his solid play, anything is possible. On the other hand, extended injuries to Grabner and MacDonald would seem to doom any chance for the playoffs.
As has been discussed on twitter, the more immediate question is the trading deadline. If the team can play at or close to this pace until mid-February, is Garth perhaps a buyer rather than a seller at the trading deadline looking to shore up the defense for a final playoff push?