UPDATE: The Islanders have clinched playoff berth after the Bruins lost.
It’s April 9th and the New York Islanders have still not clinched a playoff berth. Like a couple of teams around the NHL right now, the Islanders seem to be backing their way into the Stanley Cup playoffs. After their 5-4 dreadful loss to Philadelphia on Tuesday, the Islanders have won just five times in their past 15 games and are at .500 hockey (14-14-1) since late January.
There’s a inconceivable scenario brewing, even if the Islanders are not willing to acknowledge it. And why would they? In the midst of a free fall, after a confluence of events Tuesday that might lead one to believe there is some malicious power at work, the Islanders were not focused on not having a postseason berth locked up with two games to go in the regular season. Instead, focus was on the opportunity that lies before them this weekend.
The Islanders need their arch rivals, New York Rangers to defeat the Ottawa Senators tonight if they want to clinch or they need the Florida Panthers to defeat the Boston Bruins. Many Islanders fans will be watching the Senators-Rangers game and will be indeed rooting for the Rangers. If Ottawa loses, the Islanders will clinch a playoff berth. But with the Rangers having already secured the Presidents’ Trophy, how much intensity can they really have? They have already announced that they will be resting some of their top players including Rick Nash.
If the Senators win, the Isles go into Pittsburgh on Friday night to face the rival Penguins, who are also still battling for a postseason spot. To continue the nightmare scenario, if the Islanders lost to the Penguins, it’s entirely possible they can return on Saturday night for the final regular-season game at the Coliseum against the Blue Jackets needing a point to make the playoffs. If this is the case, I can assure you that fans will be chanting “We Want Playoffs!” frantically just like two seasons ago down the stretch. And if they lost that game, the old barn in Uniondale might go out with a riot.
Although there is a very slim chance that the Islanders don’t make the playoffs, they have not been playing good hockey recently so their going to need the help from other teams. If those teams don’t grant the Islanders’ wishes and prayers, they control their own destiny.