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The Week Ahead: For Pride or Playoffs?

Throughout this season, Our Rob Taub will give his preview of the week ahead for the New York Islanders. There will be what to watch for, and one X-factor for both the Isles and the opposing team they face that night.

Time is running out on the New York Islanders. They finally were victorious last night in Calgary after a brutal eight-game losing streak. While they still sit on the outside looking in with 13 games to go, the Islanders still are somehow mathematically alive.

Now with the teams above them continuing to win, a playoff birth looks to be more and more distant. And with another three days off before they return to the ice Thursday night, the Isles need all the help they can get.

With three games on the schedule this week — and another back-to-back in their way — New York is in dire need to get all six points any possible way they can. It’s well known, there has been no fight lost in the Isles locker room, but any game without at least point this week could be the final nail in the coffin for the 2017-18 version of the Islanders.

Our Rob Taub provides us his preview:

Thursday: vs Washington Capitals

After 13 days away from Barclays Center, the Islanders will welcome the playoff-bound Capitals for the first of a home-and-home series. Washington — led by superstar Alex Ovechkin — is in a dogfight for the top seed in the Metro, that could come down to the final week of the season. Defensemen John Carlson has had a brilliant campaign, recording 54 points in 68 games.

Speaking of that Ovechkin fella, he already has another 40-goal season under his belt, while his sidekick Evgeny Kuznetsov has quietly plotted another 20 goals.

Both teams have split the first two games, with the home team coming away victorious. The Islanders will be looking to break a two-game home losing streak, and win their first game in Brooklyn since February 15th against the Rangers. Thomas Hickey has seven points in his last 11 games.

Matchup to watch: The Islanders 30th ranked penalty kill vs the Capitals 6th ranked power play.

X-Factors: Lars Eller, Johnny Boychuk

Friday: at Washington Captials

The Isles will finish their season series with Washington when they head to D.C. just 24 hours after the teams collide Thursday evening. New York lost their only contest 4-3 in the nation’s capital back in early November despite a dominating performance offensively.

Barry Trotz’s crew is one of the best home clubs in the National Hockey League. Their 23-9-2 mark at Verizon Center will make for a hard task for an Islander squad that never has found their footing on the road since the year began.

Matchup to watch: Offense. New York ranks 8th in goals for. Washington doesn’t rank far behind in 12th.

X-Factors: Tom Wilson, Ross Johnston

Sunday: vs Carolina Hurricanes

A three-game in four-night stretch will come to a close for New York when they host the Hurricanes Sunday evening. These two teams have taken slightly different paths since the last time they met in Raleigh back on February 16th — a 3-0 Islander win.

Carolina is right in the fight for the last wild-card slot in the Metropolitan Division. They have received excellent seasons from Sebastian Aho, Jeff Skinner, and Teuvo Teravainen. All year long though, their goaltending — Cam Ward and Scott Darling — has continued to be a question mark and could be the reason the Canes miss out on the playoffs for the fifth year in a row.

As for the Islanders, they already defeated the Hurricanes at home once this season back in mid-November. They have struggled at home since the New Year so a division-game like this could be a big help if the postseason is still a reality.

Matchup to watch: The faceoff dot. Carolina is in the top-two in faceoff percentage, while New York ranks a measly 24th.

X-Factors: Jacob Slavin, Jordan Eberle

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