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Vacation time: Islanders eye Florida sweep with dads in tow

Worried about the Islanders' win streak spoiling their lottery chances? I've got just the jinx: The Islanders are half way through a four-game sweep of Florida -- and they're bringing their dads along to finish the job. That's right, if things go "well," we may have to steal a moment at a desk down the hall and once again (dis)honor Sleek's mad state cartoon humor.

In truth, I missed my chance when both Florida teams came through and had a mickey slipped into their Long Island iced tea. But I'm lazy and forgetful.

Oldny_medium              Fla-nose_medium

New York Islanders (16-29-5, 30th) at Florida Panthers (24-18-8, 8th/E)

7:30 p.m. EST | some bank (those still exist?) Center | MSG+

Panthers rebuttals: Litter Box Cats | Cat Scratch | Panthers on the Prowl

Real cause for concern? Mark Streit has an "upper body sprain" [correction: Sorry, that should be "strain," which is less serious], which is about what you feared if you saw him wincing with the trainer on the bench the other night. The loss of Thomas Pock fills me with ennui -- but the addition of both Jack Hillen and Joe Callahan will be an interesting test. Between Streit and Pock, that's 30+ minutes being replaced by the subsequent depth dominos. I imagine Gordon is going to lean heavily on his top four, like he did after Streit left the Lightning game.

Meanwhile, it will be interesting how the Panthers handle the crux of their playoff push with stories about Jay-Bo's trade status hitting every day for the next month. So far, so good -- especially now that they escaped the media horde known as Canada. But you know how crazy the deadline gets. TSN has already launched "TradeCentre" shows.

I have been watching several lottery-eligible teams lately, because such is my lot in life. After blowing a 3-1 home lead to these here Cats the previous night, the Maple Leafs absolutely wilted to the Sabres last night, losing 5-0 as Vanek cakewalked.

Now, I've been flippant about the lottery situation this season -- in part because the Isles dug such a big hole that it would be hard for others to "catch" up. But combine this winning run with tanktastic performances like that put on by the Leafs this week, and I start to wonder, or worry, or whatever that uncomfortable feeling is that includes contradictory tanking-hope for the future and competitive-hope for the present. I mean, if the Leafs are gonna play it like that, then the Isles will have to rethink tank alignment strategy.

Prediction? This feels like 3-3, with Florida "winning" in a shootout.