Isles Still Have a Tough Road Ahead

The New York Islanders are coming off a fantastic road trip. New York just finished a seven game trip where they went 6-1-0. In fact, the Islanders are 10-2-1 in their last thirteen games. However, they still have a tough road ahead of them.

March is Lion Not a Lamb

The expression is March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Well for the Islanders there is a lot more lion in March than lamb. While the Isles have games in hand on both the Rangers and Penguins, the downside of that is that New York has a hectic schedule for the rest of March. This includes a stretch of seven games in twelve days which starts tomorrow night. That’s an awful lot of hockey.

Despite just finishing a seven game road trip the Islanders still have to play seven more road games this month. This includes stops at Boston, Pittsburgh, Nashville, Dallas and Tampa. The Isles also have some tough opponents coming into the Barclays Center starting tomorrow night when the Penguins come to town for a huge game. The Florida Panthers are in next week. There is no rest for the weary.

YouTube player

Getting the #2 Seed

The Islanders’ mission is clear. Finish in second place in the Metropolitan Division. If they can accomplish this goal the Isles will have home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. New York knows how valuable home ice is, as they lost Game 7 in the first round of the playoffs last year in Washington.

Going into action Monday night, March 7th, the Islanders trail the second place Rangers by just three points. However, the Isles have three games in hand on the blue shirts. Hold on to your horses Islanders fans because they have not wrapped up one of the the top three seeds in the division yet. Far from it. The Islanders only hold a three point advantage over the Penguins, who occupy one of the wild card spots in the East. The good news is the Islanders also have two games in hand on Pittsburgh.

The Islanders only play the Rangers one more time this season. They go back to Madison Square Garden at the very end of the regular season on April 7th. However, the Islanders square off three more times against Pittsburgh before the regular season comes to a close.

Many Scenario’s in Play

The Islanders have not locked up a playoff spot yet but they are in a very strong position. They have an eight point lead over the Philadelphia Flyers with two games in hand. New York can finish either as the number two or three seed in the Metro or fall down to one of the wild card spots. In all likelihood, the Islanders will play either the Rangers, Capitals or the Atlantic division winner in the first round of the playoffs. Anyone of those opponents would be a very difficult task for New York, who is trying to win their first playoff series since the spring of 1993.

Islanders fans are feeling great coming off a dramatic win versus the Rangers at the Garden, with Cal Clutterbuck’s goal with a minute and a half left in regulation. The Islanders and their fans can only enjoy it for a very short time as there are many critical games ahead in March.

Follow me on Twitter @TheNLKing

(Photo courtesy of Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)