THE MORNING SKATE — The (Playoff) Battle of New York

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Kevin Schultz

After last night’s win in Washington, the Islanders hopped over Carolina in the standings and kept pace with the Rangers, who won last night. They also denied the Capitals points, who still sit at 31, by winning in regulation.

As you can see from the graphic above, with 15 games to go the Islanders are within reach of the eighth playoff spot right behind their two area rivals. It’s not glamorous and whomever gets it might just get blown out by the Penguins, but it’s the battle for the eighth playoff spot in the East.

If the Rangers keep up this same pace, they’ll set the playoff bar at 53 points. To match that, the Islanders will need 20 points in 15 games, which comes out to something like a 9-4-2 record. That’s not crazy, but they’ll have to play awfully well down the stretch. There’s not much margin for error or room for another three-game pointless streak. It really speaks to how bad the Eastern Conference race has been that last week’s home nightmare didn’t extinguish the Islanders’ playoff hopes. When Toronto has gotten its act together and separated itself from the pack, you know something’s up.

The Isles will try for a three-game winning streak tomorrow night in Philadelphia. They are 0-6 this season after winning two in a row. Philly is bad but that’s a relative term in the East standings. The Flyer are sitting in 13th with 28 points. Hopefully the seventh time is the charm.

Former Islanders assistant coach Wayne Fleming passed away yesterday after a long battle with brain cancer, at 62. Fleming was behind the Isles bench from 1997-99 and spent time with five other teams. He battled through his diagnosis, coaching the Lightning to within a goal of the Stanley Cup Final in 2010-11.

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