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Islanders must bounce back for biggest game of season vs. Flyers

April 1, 2024, 7:25 PM ET [180 Comments]
Ben Shelley
New York Islanders Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
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The New York Islanders play their biggest game of the season tonight, facing the Philadelphia Flyers to close out their road trip.

Unfortunately, the Islanders continue to struggle to string together a stretch of results, not being able to build any momentum after their win in Florida on Thursday. While we could probably look at New York's play over the last four games or so and say there’s been elements to like in both the wins and losses, at this point in the season, it’s all about results.

The Islanders are coming off a loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, where they opened the scoring, but were outplayed through much of the first period afterwards, and found themselves down 2-1 by intermission. Then while New York did come alive in the second period, outchancing Tampa Bay through much of the middle frame, Andrei Vasilevskiy stood tall to fend off the Islanders’ opportunities. The Lightning struck early in the third to extend the lead though (on a tip that was very, very close to being above the crossbar), and the Islanders couldn’t catch up, eventually falling 4-1 with an empty net goal.

New York has 19 goals over their last 10 games, and six of them all came in the win over Winnipeg. When four or five players are relied upon as heavily as they are for the majority of the Islanders’ offense, a team is setting themselves up for scoring issues.

But regardless, largely thanks to other teams faltering around them, Islanders still have a shot at the playoffs with nine games to go, and it starts with tonight’s matchup against the Flyers.

As of now, here’s where the standings sit:

- 82 points, 9 games remaining: Washington Capitals
- 82 points, 7 games remaining: Philadelphia Flyers
- 80 points, 8 games remaining: Detroit Red Wings
- 77 points, 9 games remaining: New York Islanders

At this point, New York probably isn’t catching Washington. But if the Islanders can win in regulation tonight, they'll pull within three points of the Flyers with two games in hand. Plus, they can also pull within a point of the Detroit Red Wings with a game in hand, if the Red Wings suffer a regulation loss on the road the Lightning tonight (Tampa Bay is 8-1-1 in their last 10 games).

The Flyers (and Red Wings) have struggled nearly as much as the Islanders over their last 10 games, both going 3-5-2. Philadelphia is also coming into the game on a two-game skid, following losses to two of the league’s worst teams in the Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Blackhawks.

Even though the Islanders are struggling to build much momentum to go on a run here, a win tonight really does put them back in the picture. That’s not to mention the Islanders’ next two games come will against the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets this week. A loss though, especially in regulation, and New York’s in a terrible spot, without much hope of recovering.

So while the Islanders have squandered chances this season to put themselves into a better position, they’ve still got a shot, but a win tonight is an absolute must.

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