The New York Islanders have called Nassau Coliseum home for somewhere around 45 non-consecutive years. Tonight, they play what probably will be their final regular-season game at the Old Barn—pending the construction timeline of UBS Arena—against the New Jersey Devils.
It is no secret that the Islanders have been limping down the stretch. At this point, unless they win resoundingly their final two games, you would have to say that they are limping into the postseason, too. But maybe, just maybe, the stakes of this game might galvanize them just a bit. I imagine, though, that some guys will be taking a rest tonight.
After all, the stakes of this game merely revolve around the arena itself—the Islanders have little-to-no control left over the standings. The Boston Bruins need only two points over their final three games to ensure that the Isles finish the season in fourth place in the East Division; if the Bruins beat the New York Rangers this afternoon, in any fashion, we will know even before the Islanders’ game starts that the Islanders will face the division winner in the first round of the playoffs.
The converse, of course, is that if the Islanders do manage to win their last two games in regulation while the Bruins drop their last three and fail to earn more than one point (and oh, by the way, one of these teams’ final games come against one another), the Islanders finish in third. But the more likely scenario is that the Islanders finish fourth. So prepare yourselves to spoil the division winner's lunch this spring as the Islanders make their final playoff run out of the Coliseum.
- The team site previews the last game at the Coliseum. That will be a recurring theme today and tonight.
- Barry Trotz has tried a few different line combinations, including giving runs on the top line to both Kyle Palmieri and Oliver Wahlstrom, to get his offense going. [Newsday]
- When the Islanders had been firing on all cylinders, their underlying numbers reflected it. But since the beginning of April, their underlying numbers have tanked. So it has not been just bad luck, unfortunately. [Stats 12 and 13 of these 16 Stats]
- Many have blamed Palmieri and Travis Zajac, and they have not contributed much since arriving. But none of the Isles’ regulars, aside from Anthony Beauvillier, have played well. It is time for some soul-searching. [IslesBlog]
- Frankly, a late-season slide does not always mean a playoff bummer, and Braydon Coburn reminded us that the inverse can be true, too. He was a member of the 2019-20 Lightning that finished the regular season on a heater and then flamed out against the Columbus Blue Jackets. [Newsday]
- Trotz warns that there is no “playoff switch,” but he also acknowledged that the guys have taken understandably a mental breather this week.
Trotz Practice Availability pic.twitter.com/0k6zMJIoqr— x - New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) May 7, 2021
- Much as the Butch Goring trade keyed the 1980 Stanley Cup, Stan Fischler remembers the Mike McEwen trade as the catalyst for the 1981 Cup. [Maven’s Memories]
- The Sound Tigers (the team’s name for now; see below and in the article) have concluded their season. Samuel Bolduc shined and Bode Wilde took a step forward, while Simon Holmstrom needs some work. [The Athletic]
Last night’s NHL scores include the Philadelphia Flyers putting a bit of a dent in the Washington Capitals’ East Division title hopes by defeating them in regulation. Also, the Tampa Bay Lightning lost in regulation to the Dallas Stars, keeping lit the Stars’ dim playoff hopes.
- That Lightning loss also clinched the Central Division for the Carolina Hurricanes. They will host either the Stars or the Nashville Predators. [NHL]
- The Hurricanes clinching the division locks in the first-ever playoff Battle of Florida. We do not know yet whether the Lightning or Florida Panthers will have home-ice advantage. [NHL]
- By earning a point in their overtime loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, the St. Louis Blues clinched the West Division’s final playoff spot. [NHL]
- David Backes will retire when the season ends. He spoke to the 31 Thoughts podcast about his career and some memorable moments, including fighting Team Canada in 2010 and being a buffer between the Blues players and coach Ken Hitchcock.