It’s a simple scenario and we all know it well: A point of any kind tonight guarantees a trip to the playoffs (and a couple of home dates of additional revenue) for the Islanders. A loss throws fate back into the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Islanders host the Montreal Canadiens, who are playing out the string and have one more game after this one. It shouldn’t be a difficult task, but the Chicago Blackhawks showed the Pittsburgh Penguins how laughable that concept is. For the Canadiens, a night like this — where they can absolutely troll an opponent and make it hurt — is their playoffs.
If the Islanders win outright, they can close out their 50th anniversary festivities by enjoying what is likely their final feel-good celebration of the season before getting smoked in the first round of the playoffs. It sounds like Big Game Josh Bailey might even make a return.
So come on, Isles. Would you please just get this one thing right?
If they faceplant again like they did in D.C., then the reality check that awaits them this offseason will come a couple weeks early. And we’ll remember factoids like this for years:
Habs come into tonight on a 1-5-0 skid, having lost 7-1 at Toronto on Saturday. Canadiens have been outscored 23-5 in those five losses.— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) April 12, 2023
Am I hopeful? Yeah, kind of. They’re at home, the crowd should be electric, Ilya Sorokin is Ilya Sorokin, and things can’t possibly start as comically as they started in D.C. (...right?!)
Am I anxious? Yeah, absolutely. Monday in D.C. was a Confirm Your Worst Fears moment. It played out exactly as one dreads when one imagines worst-case scenarios. Plus, there’s the matter of that hapless power play, a major source of seasonlong futility.
Ah well, this is our game thread. Careful, it might overflow!