Once again the New York Islanders’ longshot playoff push continues against non-playoff competition, with the equation very simple for what needs to happen to keep things alive:
Essentially, the Islanders have to win in regulation or OT, while their playoff competition has to lose, in regulation.
- If the Senators get a point tonight against the Bruins, Ottawa is in.
- If the Maple Leafs get a win of any kind over the Lightning, Toronto is in.
- If the Leafs only get a point while the Isles only win via shootout or get only a point, the Leafs are still in.
- If the Isles lose in extra point (and gain one point) while the Leafs lose in regulation, there is still a possible path, but the Isles need to keep winning in regulation or OT to push the tiebreaker to their head-to-head season series advantage.
But hey, at least (for now) there are still two teams the Isles can catch?
For tonight the part in the Isles’ control is the always problematic Carolina Hurricanes, who had an impressive season outside of their goal crease, but once again will miss out on the playoffs. Canadian media will continue to take shots at their attendance, making no acknowledgment of the very relevant fact that the team hasn’t provided fans with a playoff team in eight seasons.
Though Nikolay Kulemin joined them for practice down in Carolina, he remains out tonight, which means...more Thomas Hickey, Left Wing! Hickey’s a smart hockey player, so he draws the straw with the Islanders forwards depleted by injuries:
"He did a good job. He was solid in the little areas," Weight said on Wednesday. "He did a good job in the neutral zone, he moved his feet, he created some things in the offensive zone and certainly most importantly in our zone he was breaking the puck out he does what he does. It's how you figure it'd translate for a guy like him, he's a thinker of the game and he'll be ready if we need him up at forward."
The overtime hero will play up front again next to Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey:
Lee - Beauvillier - Ho-Sang
Ladd - Quine - Chimera
Hickey - Nelson - Bailey
Gionta - Jones - Clutterbuck
The prodigal Jaroslav Halak starts in goal again.
All other scratches (Kulemin, John Tavares, Ryan Strome, Casey Cizikas, Shane Prince, Travis Hamonic) outside of the third goalie are injured.
Again, this is not the look of a typical playoff-bound lineup, but it’s going be fun to see them try. We swear.
For the Hurricanes, Eddie Lack starts in goal.
The game is on MSG+2 (twice the plus!), AM970 - The Answer, 88.7FM - WRHU, and 103.9FM - LI News.
Follow Hurricanes coverage on SB Nation at Canes Country.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks here by game time, which is 7 p.m. EDT.