The Islanders tonight can also clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if they defeat the Rangers in regulation. That would send out the Coliseum with a bang. And after the confidence dip experienced writ large by Islanders fans, assurance that the playoffs will be in the cards would surely ease our minds.
Then, the Islanders can spend the last week of the regular season gearing up for the postseason. It would give them a full week to test out some new lines or to give the existing lines some free reign to get comfortable. Yes, seeding would still be on the line. Sweeping eight points from the Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils would help immensely, to say nothing of taking two points from the Boston Bruins in the last game of the season.
Plus, they will have whatever time the NHL grants between the end of the regular season. The Bruins, after playing the Islanders on May 10, will have one more game to play on May 11 against the Washington Capitals.
But the Vancouver Canucks, due to their long COVID-19 pause, will not finish the regular season until May 16. It is possible that the NHL begins the U.S. divisions’ playoffs while the Canucks complete their season, but it is not a given. The NHL may prefer to wait for all teams to be done.
That would give the Islanders a full week to practice, akin to the extra training camp that they had pre-bubble that allowed Jean-Gabriel Pageau to get more comfortable in Barry Trotz’s system. Perhaps that would help integrate more fully both Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac.
Anyway, I have gotten quite off-topic and looked quite far ahead. Tonight, the Islanders need to take care of business by extinguishing what embers remain of the Rangers’ playoff hopes and punching their own ticket to the postseason.
- The team site previews tonight’s game. It is Marvel Superhero Night at the Old Barn.
- As mentioned above, the Islanders will clinch a playoff spot if they can beat the Rangers in regulation. [Newsday]
- The Rangers have lost for the season Brett Howden, who fractured his foot I believe by blocking a Ryan Pulock shot. But Chris Kreider, Ryan Lindgren, and Jacob Trouba may be available. [NHL Buzz]
- Arthur Staple projected the Isles’ ideal lines for the rest of the season and into the playoffs and they look exactly like the lines that Trotz rolled out Thursday night. Leo Komarov fits the best of the options that Trotz has tried at LW1, and the underlying numbers support it. I guess if he can continue to convert the gimmes... [The Athletic]
- Komarov brings to the Isles’ lineup some versatility and a whole lot of work ethic. As Trotz puts it, he is someone that “drags you into the fight.” [Islanders]
- Stan Fischler helped Denis Potvin write his 1977 autobiography, Power on Ice. There is something that I never knew. [Maven’s Memories]
- Today is Saturday, but the point remains:
Last night’s NHL scores include nothing from our robust division but do include a shutout for Phillip Grubauer and the Colorado Avalanche over the San Jose Sharks in the Avs’ goalie’s return to the crease. Also, the Arizona Coyotes ended the Vegas Golden Knights’ winning streak at ten games.
- The Seattle Kraken have paid their final expansion fee and are now officially the 32nd team in the National Hockey League. They may sign players and make trades. [NHL]
- Now that the franchise is official, the expansion draft this summer becomes even more real. In these two mock drafts, Kieffer Bellows and Scott Mayfield were selected from the Isles. [The Athletic]
- The NHL is optimistic that the Winter Classic will be able to return on New Years Day 2022. It would be in Minnesota, where the 2021 Winter Classic was supposed to be. [The Athletic]
- Two Seans from The Athletic “drafted” broadcasters, one Sean serving for ESPN and the other for Turner Sports. Brendan Burke and A.J. Mleczko ended up as the second play-by-play/analyst pairing for ESPN. [The Athletic]