THE MORNING SKATE — Standings, Cappy’s Milestone, Power Rankings

With last night’s win and a Rangers’ loss, the Islanders pulled to three points clear of their rivals. That helps to nullify the game-in-hand that the Rangers have on the Isles, so if the points stay the same, that extra game won’t matter. The rest of the results last night didn’t quite go the Islanders’ way. Winnipeg and Ottawa won, keeping pace. Toronto did lose, but they are still four points clear of the Isles. With five games to go, it looks like the Senators (one point ahead with an extra game) and the Rangers (three back with an extra game) are the main competition.

Also, according to Sports Club Stats, the Islanders gained 5% with last night’s win and now have an 84.8% chance to make the post-season. They’re also at 49 points, only five away from that magic 54 with five games to go. That’s a nice position to be in, with only one playoff bound team left on the schedule (Toronto, tomorrow).

If the Islanders win Thursday and the Jets lose in regulation, that could make Saturday’s game in Winnipeg an opportunity for the Islanders to clinch a playoff spot.

CAPUANO’S WIN TOTAL
Jack Capuano is now the second winningest coach in Islanders’ history. He’s also has spent the third most games behind the bench in team history. Via Hornick:

Jack Capuano now has 82 career wins as he becomes the second winningest coach in Islander history, passing Terry Simpson for second place. He will move into second place in games coached on Saturday.

Most wins by Islander coaches:
1. Al Arbour 740
2. Jack Capuano 82
3. Terry Simpson 81
4. Peter Laviolette 77
5. Ted Nolan 74

Most games coached (Islanders):
1. Al Arbour 1,500
2. Mike Milbury 191
3. Jack Capuano 190
4. Terry Simpson 187
5. Scott Gordon 181

POWER RANKINGS

Mike J writes in with the weekly power rankings roundup:

“As we know most of these writers just mail it in on these power rankings and comments and of course it means absolutely nothing. Still for me as a die hard Islander fan, when the going is good, which it rarely has been, I like to find as much to read about them as I can. So again I put together a little summary of what the national press thinks about our up and coming team.

The Isles highest mark this week came from the New York Post, which has them at 12th. The biggest jump was also at the Post and on the Bleacher report where they moved up 2 spots. ESPN was the only publication to drop them in there rankings, one spot down to 13th. TSN is still not paying attention as they have them stuck at the 17th spot while they have Dallas jump past them to 14th. Dallas moved up 7 spots to 14 despite having less points and more losses than the Islanders and out of a playoff position. CBS says Dallas is the second hottest team in the NHL (behind the Capitals) and have them ahead of the Isles as well. The Stars are 6-4 in there last 10. Umm..ok.

So here is the latest roundup:

• Bleacher Report: 14th up from 16th last week.
What they say: “Stanley Cup playoffs on the Island? It’s starting to look more and more likely by the game. The Islanders only have two losses this month: at red-hot Washington in a shootout and in overtime against the Rangers. Believe, Islanders fans. Believe!”

• CBSSports.com: 14th, up from 15th
What they say: “The Islanders have been playing great of late, going 8-1-2 in the last 11. The key has been strong play in their own zone; they have given up two or fewer in eight straight. The Isles’ last five games come on the road, but against mostly bad teams..”

• ESPN.com: 13th, down from 14th.
What they say: ” You know how much it just killed the Islanders and their loyal fans to lose in overtime to the hated Rangers on Saturday night. Ouch.”

• FoxSports.com: 16th, up from 17th.
What they say: ” Not that defense has been an issue of late, but the Isles have defensemen Brian Strait and Joe Finley back from injury. The Islanders are 7-2-1 over their last 10, the most recent game a 1-0 loss to the Rangers in OT on Saturday.”

• New York Post: 12th, up from 14th.
What they say: ” Closing in on their first playoff appearance in six seasons, the Islanders are 8-1-2 over their past 11, and John Tavares should be in the MVP running for turning this team around.

• NHL.com: 14th, from 15th .
What they say: ” Their playoff destiny will likely be decided over their final five games — all on the road — over an eight-day span. But they can’t overlook the Florida Panthers at home Tuesday. If the Isles let those points get away, they could be in trouble.”

• Philly.com: 16th, unchanged.
What they say: ” With another two wins under their belts and the scoring tandem between Matt Moulson and John Tavares, the Isles are close to seeing another playoff run.”

• SI.com: 13th, unchanged.
What they say: “A confession: I’m a big Islanders homer these days. I want to see these guys make the playoffs. I absolutely despised the Isles as a teenager who loved the Bruins in the ’80s, but since I started covering the league in 1995, they’ve been objects of pure pity. Now here they are on the precipice of the playoffs. Can they hold on and make it? Or will the season end up being just another broken heart for the long-suffering partisans of Uniondale? I’ll be fascinated to find out, but in the meantime: Go you Isles!”

(ed note: That’s Adrian Dater, by the way)

• TSN.ca: 17th, unchanged.
What they say: “It’s been a long, strange trip for LW Josh Bailey, who is still only 23, but he’s giving the Isles the secondary offence they need, scoring seven goals and 11 points in the last 14 games.”

ALSO: John Tavares and Mark Streit’s lockout team, SC Bern, won the Swiss championship… Newsday’s story on the four developers who submitted RFPs to the County… And apparently Bill O’Reilly is an Islander (or Panther) fan