Last night was a setback for fans (and players?) hoping to avoid a first-round encounter with the Pittsburgh Penguins. But it also showed how things can change in an instant, as the Islanders gave up the winning goal with under 10 minutes in the game, while fellow seed-chasers New York and Ottawa tied their games late and then won in OT.
For the Islanders, all they can do is take two points -- before the game is 65 minutes old, preferably -- and then hope the Sens and/or Rangers falter again.
Essentially, the Isles need a regulation win, then need the Rangers and Sens to not pass them in points (duh) nor win themselves in regulation or OT. Eric Hornick spells out all the possible scenarios here.
- Lubomir Visnovsky is getting a rest tonight, so Thomas Hickey is back in the lineup.
- The forwards reportedly remain unchanged, which means yours truly will again wince at the sight of Casey Cizikas between two bangers in Matt Martin and Eric Boulton.
- It's Fan Appreciation Night for the Sabres, so they'll at minimum not be in the mood to roll over and be embarrassed. Islanders have to come to play. Likely lineup, including Ryan Miller's 600th career start, here at Die By the Blade.
Three Good Reads
9. Interesting to hear New York Islanders players talk about the reason for their playoff berth. "John Tavares carried us for 25 games while the rest of us figured out what our roles were," said one. "Once that happened, I think we actually made it easier on him. Now everyone understands what is expected of them."
There is more Isles ink there in thoughts 10 and 11, including something about the silent but deadly Dane.
If you missed it in the a.m. bits, the Post has something from Frans Nielsen on the shift he thought was a turning point in the season.
That shift ended in a goal by Colin McDonald against the Rangers, 29 seconds into the second period after the Isles had rolled over in the first. Here's an argument for why guys like McDonald should be the real Masterton nominees.
I believe consensus, and fairness, dictates that our FIG tournament ends with tonight's game. Leave your First Islanders Goal picks here.
Good news is, no matter what happens, this team is headed to the playoffs. We'll begin a new FIG tourney there.
Prize, as always, is that on your deathbed you will receive total consciousness ... which is nice.