Islanders Bits: Swinging for a Vague Not-Last Place

Hey Matt, got a contract yet? You could play with us!

We'll start Monday off with a look at the playoff picture: Both the Capitals (to Chicago) and the Jets (to Carolina) lost in regulation yesterday -- among the only three of six to be decided before extra points were doled out -- so the race for the final spot in the East remains an entertaining three-way battle between Southeast foils Washington and Winnipeg and the lately resurrected Buffalo Sabres.

After 72 games, the Jets and Sabres have 76 points, the Capitals have 78. Winnipeg and Washington are each 5-4-1 in their last 10. Does anyone want the eighth seed?

Meanwhile, the Flyers ended the Penguins' 11-game win streak on a last-second OT goal, which means the Pens still picked up a point and the Atlantic title is still quite up for grabs: Three points separate those two and the Rangers. The Islanders, by the way, finish this five-game road string with a home-and-home against the Pens. More news after the jump:

In case you didn't click that link above, from the Japers' Rink recap of the Caps loss:

Halfway through the first period the Caps had 0 shots on goal, 2 goals against, and were in a 1-2-2 with four men on the defensive side of center. It's tough to see where the offense is going to come from in a set up like that, you are essentially relying on the other team to turn the puck over. It's tough to overcome a two goal deficit against a talented team when you ask them to beat themselves.

Isles Positioning

As the season winds down, Newsday is kind of doing the "passing glance" treatment, rotating different writers into the Islanders coverage. (I kid. Mostly.) Now it's Jim Baumbach's turn, and he penned a brief on the Islanders going from chasing 8th (long shot) to now wanting to avoid last in the East.

Of course the unwritten subtext here is that the Islanders are still the same team they've been most of the season: There is not much difference between 28th overall in this league and 20th. A few hot or cold weeks, some blown leads and some unfortunate OT/shootout coin flips can put lipstick on one pig while prepping another for ritual slaughter. Eight points separate 20th and 28th today, but that's not something that makes good copy for the Brooksies of the world.

Just like The People Demand A Winner via shootout, the people demand a narrative. Twentieth means almost playoffs, and 28th (or thereabouts) means tanktastic lottery patrons. Be prepared for the Islanders to finish anywhere in this vast range. (Okay, not 20th, but you get the point.)

The Pipeline

The Sound Tigers lost again last night. Michael Fornabaio says it was a weird game. The coach and troops talked of "60 minutes" and all that -- yes, really, lots of coaches speak like that. Fornabaio also says no word yet on John Persson heading to Bridgeport, but with his team missing the WHL playoffs, you'd think ... Also: Micheal Haley fought some.

UPDATE: Haley might be a candidate for a six-game suspension. Fornabaio:

There were four fights in the first period, including one unsanctioned rematch: As Micheal Haley and Worcester’s Mike Moore returned to the benches after serving their penalty time for a fight, they fought again. Both players were ejected.

Written under rule 70.4 for them, which is where he suspects six games.

The Sound Tigers are of course on the road thanks to the NCAA regionals.

If you missed it in the prospect report (Free Webby!), another story on Brock Nelson. Who is kind of good.

Ryan Strome's Niagara team finished by setting a franchise mark. I'm a "keep 'em in juniors" kind of guy, but I'm wondering what they'll have left to accomplish next year.

The NHL and General Hockey

Once again, with feeling: Plus/minus not the measuring stick you should use (The Province)

Which is why you get: In absence of shot statistics, the Vancouver Giants keep their own | Buzzing The Net - Yahoo! Sports Canada

I would be shocked, SHOCKED: Is Sidney Crosby being treated with deference? | Sports | National Post

Would love any cognitive specialists' (or others) thoughts on this: Computers latest technology to train players' brains - NHL.com. Not exactly related, but I've long found the more I learn and assimilate about playing space in soccer, the more I can apply it to hockey. (And it works both ways ... I'm speaking of playing rather than watching, but it probably applies there too. Seams, passing lanes, collective movements ... I always suspect the stars see those things and are attuned to the on a level us peasants don't fully grasp.)

Great look at Semin's numbers: Why Future Performance, Not Consistency, Matters

Yikes: Oilers' Taylor Hall suffers concussion – USATODAY.com Video of it here.

Sure sounds like Radulov is Nashville-bound.

Oh, well okay then: It’s OK guys, Jeff Skinner didn’t mean to hurt Scott Nichol | ProHockeyTalk

The life of BizNasty: Phoenix Coyotes' Paul Bissonnette's world is changing

And finally, ogling teenagers: 2012 DRAFT PROFILE – Griffin Reinhart, D, Edmonton (WHL) | islanderspointblank.com

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