You know how there is a strained argument that the current Islanders season wouldn’t look so hopeless if the Metropolitan Division hadn’t turned into the best division in hockey, with four giants running away with things and a fifth benefiting from a 10-game win streak in the first half?
For the Carolina Hurricanes, that argument is not strained. A team that was already quietly improving last season, they have looked legit this season and currently stand just three points behind the Flyers (and with two games in hand) for the second Eastern wild card spot, aka “the fifth Metro playoff spot.”
If I had to bet today, I’d put my money on Carolina grabbing that spot by season’s end — which would end a playoff drought dating back to 2008-09.
(That’s seven playoff-less springs and counting. Let that sink in for a moment, lest you think your fan suffering be unique.)
The Hurricanes welcome the Islanders to town tonight after both teams played last night, too. Carolina has the easier schedule here, having stayed home to dump the Sabres last night and go 3-0 thus far on this home stand (and 14-4-1 at home in 2016-17).
The Islanders head into Raleigh having beaten the lethargic Florida Panthers in Sunrise last night, with John Tavares capping a hat trick through an empty net goal to make a 5-2 final score.
That hat trick also brought Tavares up to and past 500 regular season points for his NHL career.
The chief lineup question coming out of last night was whether the Isles would give Jean-Francois Berube a start thanks to the back-to-back or use Thomas Greiss again, as the Isles did with last weekend’s back-to-back coming out of their bye week.
Watch and Learn
This one is televised on MSG+, with radio coverage on AM 970 “The Answer,” 88.7 WRHU and 103.9 - LI News
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks here by game time, which is 7 p.m. EST.