During yesterday evening's Hockey Night Live, Billy Jaffe mentioned Islanders and playoffs in the same sentence. Dave Maloney let out an uncontrollable laugh of disbelief, and said something to the effect of "Are you kidding me?" But are the playoffs really a pipe dream as Maloney will have you believe? To date, everyone has been focusing on what it will take to hit 92 points (the average points needed in the past to make the playoffs). That is usually followed by statements that the Isles will need to "go 24-12-0 or 22-11-3" to get to 92 pts. Seems daunting; but when you break it down from a different perspective it doesn't seem as insurmountable.
Here's a more positive way to look at the path to the playoffs:
For the balance of the year, the Isles have to win
- 4 more games than Washington, and
- 3 more games than Toronto and Winnipeg, and 1 more game than Montreal & Tampa
- and except for the Capitals, the Islanders have 1 to 2 more games on hand versus the teams above.
Also, if the Isles get on a hot streak, say go 7-2-1 in a ten game span, they can be within 3 pts of the playoffs (assuming the others play .500 NHL hockey.
As an example, below is a scenario to show how the Isles can get back into the thick of things. It shows the standings as of January 22nd. If the Isles go 7-2-1 over their next ten games (now 56 games played) and the teams they are competing with play .500 hockey in the games that get them to a total of 56 games; the Islanders could find themselves 3 pts out of a playoff spot (back in the thick of things).
|January 22||Record to||Pts after|
|Team||GP||PTS||game 56||56 games|
Well of course, putting numbers together is easy (my wife just rolled her eyes), but to actually pull it off, I believe the Isles need the following to happen:
- 1. First line needs to continue to play great hockey
- 2. More secondary scoring is needed (more from the defense would be nice)
- 3. Nabokov and/or Montoya need to get hot and steal 2 or 3 games
- 4. Defense needs to continue its improved play
I still think the odds are against the Islanders, but the playoffs are not impossible. There is a path to get there. Let's pray for a nice 10 game streak and meaningful hockey in March-April.
Side note - the Devils were 10-29-2 on January 9th last year and made a run at the playoffs. The Isles currently sit at 19-21-6, but hey, they're the Islanders...they don't stand a chance...so says Dave Maloney. Maybe Tavares and team have a different view.