I have to tell you, folks: I was not confident that things would break the New York Islanders’ way after Monday night’s disaster in D.C., where the Washington Capitals put a dent in the Isles’ playoff hopes. However, dents can be repaired, and the Islanders found a good body shop last night in the form of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Although the Pittsburgh Penguins needed to win their last two games to guarantee their playoff spot, they were against the bottom two teams in the standings. But the Blackhawks, on the road and on a back-to-back, stunned the Pens and handed them a regulation loss in their Fan Appreciation Night final home game of the season. What polite teams we have here in this race, holding the door open for one another.
Given the Penguins’ failure to even get a point, they remain at 90 points and can max out at only 92. That regulation loss, as well as the Buffalo Sabres’ regulation loss, also clinched a playoff berth for the Florida Panthers. The Sabres have officially been eliminated.
The Isles have 91 points, but they clinched the tiebreaker over Pittsburgh and thus need only one point from their final game tonight hosting the Montreal Canadiens to hit 92 points, clinch their spot, and eliminate the Penguins. If the Islanders fail to get a point, they wouldn’t be eliminated, but they’d need to root for a Penguins’ loss (in any fashion) on Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. But a regulation win also leaves open the possibility that the Isles end up WC1; they’d need a Florida loss of any kind on Thursday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.
I don’t want to be too greedy. Just get the game to overtime if need be and we’ll go from there. That said, wouldn’t it be nice to rinse off that nasty game on Monday and just win the damn thing convincingly? They’re back at home and should be raring to go to correct for Monday’s embarrassing loss. Get the first goal, and then get another. The building will be electric. Pittsburgh held the door open again, and it’s now time to walk through.
FIG picks go here. Last one of the season.
- A preview of tonight’s extremely important game. [Islanders] It’s Fan Appreciation Night, and we’d appreciate a playoff spot and not the kind of Fan Appreciation the Pens showed last night. Thank you. [Islanders] In the meantime, enter to win a 50 Years by the Numbers poster. [Islanders]
- After that blessing from the Hockey Gods, the Islanders need to show the urgency from puck drop—hell, even before puck drop. They need to jump on Montreal with early goals.[Newsday | NY Post | THN] They shouldn’t feel any pressure, though; they just need to take care of business against Montreal. [NY Post] Don’t let the bad starts and other habits return as they did against Washington. You got a second life: jump on the opportunity. [The Athletic]
- To the extent you might care about such things, if the Islanders can clinch, it would be only the second time (first time being 1994, ew) that all of the Islanders, Rangers, Devils, Knicks, and Nets would be in the playoffs in the same spring. [NY Po$t]
- Also, if they get there, look for Pierre Engvall to make a big impact in the postseason. [The Athletic]
- After Monday night’s loss, Mike and Dan recorded a cathartic emergency Islanders Anxiety that I listened to immediately, and it did help. Given that none of us knew Pittsburgh would lose last night, the tone is a bit despairing, but it was definitely how I felt after that Caps game. [LHH]
- One of the things worth venting about is the dreadful power play the Isles roll out nightly, but that’s an offseason issue (or Plan B: hope that Mathew Barzal will be back). [NY Post]
- This (Yester)Day in Isles History: J.P. Parise scored 11 seconds into Game 3’s overtime period to secure the upstart Islanders’ first-ever playoff series win over the rival New York Rangers (1975).
- The team site delved deeper into that game, conferring with J.P.’s son, Zach Parise. It put them on the map. [Islanders]
- Parise is the Isles’ nominee for the Masterton Trophy. [Newsday]
- It’s the 50th anniversary season, so Larry Brooks ranks the top 50 Islanders in history, starting with Nos. 21-50. [NY Post]
Last night’s NHL scores include the Devils defeating the Buffalo Sabres in regulation, officially eliminating them from the chase and keeping New Jersey in the hunt for the Metro Division title. The Hurricanes kept a one-point lead over them with their win over the Red Wings, so it all comes down to their last games on Thursday. But given that the only way the Islanders land WC1 would be a Hurricanes’ win, it is no longer possible that the Isles would face the Devils in the first round; it will be either the ‘Canes or Bruins.
- And speaking of the Boston Bruins, they defeated the Capitals last night to hit 133 points, topping the 132-point mark set by the 1977 Habs and setting the all-time record for points in a single season (though as Dom has noted, this is the loser point/The People Demand a Winner era). [NHL]
- I was one of many who thought if nothing else, Sidney Crosby would will the Penguins to victory in these final two games, depth issues be damned. He tried his best, firing eight shots on goal, but Petr Mrazek brought some Petr Mragic, and Islanders Legend Tristan Jarry returned. In the words of Dom, teehee! (But please, Islanders, don’t let this one slip away. Just a point. Just a point!) [NHL]
- Slight digression from playoff talk, but it’s official: The NHL is going to Melbourne, Australia for the 2023 NHL Global Series. The Arizona Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings will play a few preseason games down under. [NHL]
- As noted up top, the regulation losses by Pittsburgh and Buffalo means that Florida is locked into a spot. [NHL]
- The Winnipeg Jets defeated the Minnesota Wild to secure the Western Conference’s final playoff berth, so the field is set out there. [NHL] That means there is only one playoff berth left to clinch, and it hopefully will be ours.
- It got a little feisty out west between Jets coach Rick Bowness and Wild coach Dean Evason. But Evason was a tough dude in his heyday, and...