Forget the Refs and the Passengers, the Islanders Just Need to Win Games

Kevin Schultz

The Islanders played their 26th game of the shortened season last night, losing in dismal fashion to the Penguins in Pittsburgh, 6-1. With 25 points, they sit only a few spots out of eighth in the Eastern Conference. There are 22 games remaining and the Islanders are going to need to play well — less like last night and more like they did on a recent five-game point steak — to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

The Rangers currently sit in eighth with 28 points, putting them on pace for 56 points at the end of the season. Last year the Buffalo Sabres finished eighth with 89 points, a slightly lower amount than usual for an eighth seed. Over a 48-game season, that’s a 52 point pace. So, it will probably take between 52-56 points to reach the eighth spot.

With an 11-12-3 record, the Islanders will have to play much better to hit just the 52-point mark. They’ve got 25 points in 26 games right now, so they’ll need at the least another 26 points in their final 22 games to hit that threshold.

The Islanders will need to be in the neighborhood of an 11-6-5 record in their final 22 games to hit 52 points. Or, better yet, 12-6-4 to hit 54 points. Is that too much to ask? No, it’s not crazy, but it will be very tough.

The team had been 3-0-2 in their last five with wins over tough opponents that they’ve previously had trouble with. That was before last night’s clunker. They were playing better of late and seemed as though they may have turned an imaginary corner. But that was before the second blowout from a Pennsylvania based team this season.

The fact of the matter is that the Islanders are going to have to win or get to overtime and they’re going to have to do it a lot. There’s really only 5-7 regulation losses left that this team can spare to have any hope of a post-season.

The five-game slide at the beginning of February was tough at the time. Between February 3rd and 11th the Islanders didn’t register a point in the standings. To have that or anything close to that happen again will be a season killer the next time around.

If the Islanders can win a dozen games and get OT points on others over the final 22, it should put them very close to the final playoff spot. That would be a significant step forward for this young team. But every time it looks like they’re about to take that step, something like last night happens and the Jekyll-Hyde routine takes another turn.

In the push to the finish, wins and “Bettman Points” will be all that matter. The Islanders need to focus on playing hard every night and playing good hockey.

Don’t talk about ‘passengers’ anymore; the most overused word from the head coach. Don’t complain about the refs (scoring a measly two goals against the Rangers could have avoided Brent Thompson’s suspension altogether to be quite honest). Don’t even think about the refs.

Play hard, play for each other, come to play every night and win. That’s what a playoff push – something not seen in these parts yet this decade – is all about. Forget the perceived slights and don’t make excuses.

It’s getting late for this team and the distractions and excuses need to be put aside.

As the late Al Davis once said, “just win, baby.”