The New York Islanders are back in control of their playoff destiny: If they win their final four games of the season, they are guaranteed a wild card spot.
The Florida Panthers hosted and beat the Buffalo Sabres, 2-1, which wasn’t great for the Islanders (but should effectively end, again, the Sabres’ season). However, the New Jersey Devils, fresh off an ass-beating by the Winnipeg Jets, came back mad and hungry and embarrassed the Pittsburgh Penguins, 5-1, behind a Dawson Mercer hat trick.
These results have Florida in the first wild card, by virtue of having one more regulation win than the Islanders, the Islanders in the second wild card, tied with Florida with 87 points, and the Pens on the outside looking in with 86 points. Each of these three teams has only four games remaining. It’s going to be a tight finish, and the Islanders need to win these four games so that there is no doubt.
Their magic number is eight, and they have eight points available to them, hence controlling their own destiny. And you could almost say the number is seven because the Islanders should hold the tiebreaker over the Penguins if they finish tied in points, though the tiebreaker is not yet officially clinched.
- A story on how last night’s results affected the Islanders. [THN]
Here's the situation:— Stefen Rosner (@stefen_rosner) April 5, 2023
Magic number for #Isles to clinch is eight points over next four games.
It's rather unlikely #Pens will catch NYI in RW tie-breaker (33-29), as they would have to win all four in regulation without NYI winning 1, so 7 points should get it done.
- Rod Brind’Amour said his team looked more desperate than the Islanders on Sunday, but the Islanders, publicly at least, aren’t questioning their desperation levels. Perhaps Rod the Bod just gave them some bulletin board material, especially if the Isles and Carolina Hurricanes meet in the playoffs. [amNY]
- The Islanders practiced yesterday without Alex Romanov. [Isles DTD] Not the best time for a good defenseman to get injured. [NY Post]
- Mathew Barzal also did not participate, but he did skate earlier in the day. [THN]
- At practice, Lane Lambert and John MacLean worked on the power play, switching up the units. [Newsday] They’re running out of time to figure it out, though. [THN] They’re trying to “alleviate” it without Barzal. [NY Post]
- The Nassaumen Hockey Podcast aptly describes this wild card race as a “shit off.” None of these teams are particularly good. [YouTube]
- The CHL playoffs are underway, and four Isles prospects are involved. [Prospect Report]
- Bid on game-worn jerseys now through April 17. [Islanders]
- Happy birthday, Bo.
Last night’s NHL scores include the Panthers and Penguins games, as well as the Calgary Flames dropping a really important game to the Chicago Blackhawks. Recaps of the Penguins game [NHL] and Panthers game. [NHL]