Once again the Islanders sit in 11th place, nine points from last in the East, and only five points away from a playoff spot. Tonight they play a Flyers squad that has only won four games in their past ten, but holds onto that 8th seed in the east that the Islanders have set their desperate eyes on. All of this just leads me to one question.
Can anyone figure this team out?
Honestly, this team has dragged us fans through mud, cleaned us off and gave us sunny skies, and then let further downpours smack us in the face. Just a few nights ago this team was playing the Rangers at the Garden for the first of a home-and-home series. It took a shootout to get there, but the Islanders pulled away with a victory putting them just a mere three points out of the playoffs. With a rematch on Thursday they would have the opportunity to take away two more points from their division-rivals and only be a single point out of the race.
And after hope was restored and the faith set forth, they fall apart in the third period to a 4-1 loss. They looked tired and effortless – two opposite ingredients of what should be a desperate playoff hungry team. And to add to that, the Leafs and Panthers are right on the Isles tail, just a point behind them, showing that things can get ugly…easily and fast. So yes, once again we sit in the 11th slot, five points out, and facing a division rival. For the optimistic fan we can say there shouldn’t be any “Rangers-Hangover,” since there wasn’t much to enjoy after their last battle.
We can also look forward to DP returning after a much-needed rest. DP’s stats and overall game had faltered a bit prior to his grandmother’s unfortunate death. It’s very possibly that his body could have been just slowing down after starting an abundance of games for the first half of the season. Regardless, the team knew that this was a recent depressing moment in his life and forced the time off on the guy, and it was well-deserved. The team even gave him an extra game off last Thursday, which should have allowed him to get even more rest and mentally refocused. We can only expect him to come out hungry for a win tonight after he publicly stated how disappointing it was to sit on a bench in a potential playoff-determining game, as well as an Islander-Ranger game.
Well, Rick, now you got an Isles-Flyers game against the team you’re trying to steal a playoff spot from, so here’s your chance.
It’s hard to predict what to expect from this team, as it’s easily been one of the most up-and-down roller coaster season’s in recent years. But now this team is down to their final thirteen games of the season with Ricky expected to be starting in most of them – if not all. Whether or not it is a smart decision to prematurely declare that Ricky is penciled in to all 13 games is yet to be seen, but I don’t think it’s something that Nolan should immediately commit too. It may even be looked at by some as a tad disrespectful to Dubie, a goaltender that carried us on his back into the playoffs last season – even if it took that final poke check in the shootout against the Devils.
Does this team possess the same magic that they discovered last season? Will they win the majority and then-some of these thirteen games? It really cannot be predicted with the up-and-down Isles who continue to amaze us at times.
All it takes is one win to get the ball rolling, and hopefully it will start to roll tonight.