PHILADELPHIA — Just two of the eight teams remaining on the Islanders’ regular-season schedule have given up hope for the playoffs.
So, no, the Islanders are not going to walk into the postseason for the first time in three years despite having a nice cushion with their 91 points against the 84 the Blue Jackets have as the team right outside the second wild-card spot.
The Capitals lost to the Wild on Friday and still own a three-point cushion over the Isles atop the Metropolitan Division.
Point is, the Islanders still are going to need to win a few games to get in, and it starts with a Saturday matinee against a desperate Flyers team that, at 80 points, can’t afford another loss.
“It’s a tough time to win hockey games right now, because you have teams that are on the fringe that are all-in, and you need to find a way to just be patient and battle,” coach Barry Trotz said after Thursday 4-0 loss in Montreal, the second straight shutout following Tuesday’s 5-0 drubbing at the hands of the Bruins at the Coliseum.
“Right now, we’re not patient and things are ending up in the back of our net.”
After Saturday, the second leg of a back-to-back is Sunday afternoon on Long Island against the Coyotes, currently tied in points for the second wild-card spot in the West. Then it’s a two-game trip to Columbus and then Winnipeg, the Jets being one of the best teams in the league. The only opponents remaining not in the playoff hunt are the Sabres (March 30) and the Panthers (April 4).
Not a good time for the Islanders to go cold.
“During the season, you’re going to go through some flat spots,” Trotz said. “We’re playing some good teams, some desperate teams. You just have to battle through it.”