Beware the Isles of March. This magic carpet ride of a season has hit some serious turbulence this month.
The Metropolitan Divison? Long Gone.
Home ice in the first round? Slipping Away.
Making the Stanley Cup Playoffs? Stay Tuned.
You know what hasn’t happened at the Coliseum in March? An Islanders win. The Islanders are 3-8-1 in March and winless at the Nassau Coliseum (0-6-1) and while divisional foes Pittsburgh and Washington have been mediocre in March, the Ottawa Senators (15-2-1 in their last 18 games) have made things interesting for all Eastern Conference teams not named the Rangers, Canadiens and Lightning.
The Islanders resigned Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk to long term contracts, the Penalty Kill has been stellar, Kyle Okposo is back in the lineup and Chad Johnson is not on the roster. It is remarkable how so much has gone wrong after everything that was wrong went right.
They started 23-8 at home this season, but Fort Neverlose has become Fort Neverscore. The Islanders have found the net just 11 times in their last 7 home games.
So why could the final regular season home game on April 11th vs Columbus be the final game EVER at the Nassau Coliseum? The Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins.
The Senators have 85 points and nine games remaining, The Bruins have 87 points with seven games left on their schedule. With only 6 games left to play, the Islanders need to find a way to get points. Anything short of six points in their final six games makes the Islanders playoff picture as clear as a view of the scoreboard when you stand in the last row of the Coliseum.
Eastern Conference Standings
Islanders Remaining Schedule
Am I crazy? Maybe. I bought 20 tickets to 5 weeknight Islanders games all to secure playoffs rights, attended just one of them and took a bath on the secondary market so perhaps that explains why my stomach is turning with more vigorous velocity than yours.
Based on 1000 simulations of the remainder of the regular season, Hocey-Reference.com has the Islanders probability to make the playoffs STILL at 100%.
Sorry, I’m not buying it. I watched my beloved New York Mets blow a 7 game lead with 17 games to play back in 2007 to the Phillies. I don’t recall if playoff probability charts existed back then, but my guess is that it was something close to 99.9% around September 17th.
As Howie Rose asked Butch postgame, “They still have what should be enough of a cushion to get there BUT that’s just a cold hard statistic. It does not take into account the psyche of a team, the mental components that go into establishing that psyche and when you take all things into consideration, is this a team that is starting to doubt themselves a little bit?” I think you know Butch’s answer and it wasn’t to chip and chase.
Howie knows what he is talking about. After all, he has seen a collapse of unthinkable proportion before. Remember, he was behind the mic when Tom Glavine walked off the mound at Shea in the 1st inning of game 162 vs the Marlins as the collapse became complete.
For the sake of Islanders Country and my playoff ticket deposit, let’s hope and pray a similar scene doesn’t play out during Game 82, the final scheduled game at Nassau Coliseum on April 11th.