- Posted: 12:11 PM, March 18, 2013
After a disappointing start to the season which saw the Islanders own a 2-9 at home record at one point, they're now on track. At 5-1-1 in March, the Islanders sit two points behind the Hurricanes for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. They have four games this week - all at home - against three teams ahead of them in the standings. So this homestand could go a long way in deciding their playoff fate.
John Tavares, who is one of the best and underrated players in the NHL, is tied for third in the league with 17 goals and also has 31 points. And the issue that has haunted the Islanders for years has been goaltending, but Evgeni Nabokov seems to have solved that problem. Taking out a clunker against the Penguins where he allowed five goals, Nabokov has allowed 12 goals in his past six starts, and brings the Islanders playoff experience from his time with the Sharks.
True, the team still has 20 games left, but if they keep up their recent play, the words "playoffs" and "Islanders" could be used in the same sentence again come April.
Games through March 17
1) Ducks (20-3-4) (1)
The Ducks are 7-0-3 in their past 10 games, but these next few weeks will be tough with three games against the Sharks, and two each against the Red Wings and Blackhawks
2) Blackhawks (23-2-3) (2)
The point streak may be over but Chicago bounced back with two road wins this week and improved to 12-1-2 away from home this season.
3) Canadiens (19-5-4) (3)
Hard to believe that this is mostly the same team from last year which missed the playoffs, and now they are competing for the No. 1 seed in the East. Despite missing two weeks while holding out, P.K. Subban leads all defenseman with seven goals.
4) Penguins (22-8-0) (4)
The Penguins have won nine games in a row, including two over the Bruins and one over the Canadiens. More impressive were their third period comebacks against the Bruins and Maple Leafs this week while allowing four goals in four games.
5) Bruins (19-5-3) (5)
Despite losing two games this week – both to the Penguins -- the Bruins are still one of the best teams in the league. Should be an interesting finish with the Canadiens for the Northeast Division title.
6) Wild (15-10-2) (8)
Haven’t lost back-to-back games in over a month. Finally playing like the team had hoped when they signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter this off season.
7) Blues (16-10-2) (12)
Jake Allen has won his past five starts since being recalled from the AHL for the second time this season and is 8-1.
8) Kings (15-10-2) (6)
Struggling lately, but would be in the playoffs if they started today, and as they proved last year, once you get in, anything can happen.
9) Jets (15-12-2) (16)
Before suffering a 4-1 loss to the Senators on Sunday, the Jets had won three in a row and now lead the Southeast Division. Good news: they play 12 of their final 19 games at home.
10) Senators (15-8-6) (13)
Ottawa has exceeded expectations minus Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson and Craig Anderson who are all out with injuries. Picked up points in all four games this week, going 2-0-2.
11) Hurricanes (15-11-1) (7)
Think about how good the Hurricanes would be if they weren’t 3-6 against their awful division opponents, the Lightning, Capitals and Panthers.
12) Canucks (13-8-6) (11)
The Canucks haven’t scored a power play goal in 11 games, and are 0-for their last 35, partly the reason they’re 2-5 over their past seven games.
13) Devils (13-10-6) (15)
Martin Brodeur has started skating and could be back as early as the end of this week, and boy have the Devils missed him.
14) Red Wings (14-10-5) (14)
Realistically have no shot at winning the division considering the Blackhawks are in it, but Detroit is a point out of fourth place and three points from ninth place.
15) Maple Leafs (15-12-2) (10)
Lost five in a row, granted those were all to the Penguins, Jets and Bruins, three of the top four ranked teams in the East. But allowing over four goals a game in their past six doesn’t help their cause, either.
16) Islanders (13-12-3) (21)
The Islanders are quietly getting back in the playoff race. With a 5-1-1 record over their past seven, it’s time to prove they can be contenders with four home games this week including games against the Canadiens and Penguins.
17) Sharks (12-9-6) (18)
Five game road trip didn’t start off well with a 5-2 loss to the Kings on Saturday. San Jose just hopes to stay afloat with three of next five games against the Ducks.
18) Rangers (13-12-2) (9)
Went 0-3 on a road trip scoring two goals. Their 65 goals scored are tied for 27th in the league. And the Islanders just passed them in the standings.
19) Coyotes (13-11-4) (19)
Shutout twice in a row. Might not get any easier with the next two against the high-powered Kings’ offense.
20) Stars (12-12-3) (17)
Scoring three goals in four games with their goal scorers is unacceptable. So is allowing eight goals to the Blackhawks.
21) Flyers (13-15-1) (20)
Only had two games last week, splitting a pair with the Devils. It’s getting down to crunch time and the Flyers will need to put together a winning streak in order to make the playoffs.
22) Blue Jackets (11-12-6) (23)
They might not make the playoffs, but Columbus is 6-0-4 in its last 10 games and isn’t the laughing stock of the league any more.
23) Oilers (11-11-6) (25)
Don’t look now, but the Oilers are four point out of first place in the Northwest division.
24) Flames (11-11-4) (28)
Impressive wins over the Red Wings and Predators. Now let’s see if they can win three games in a row for the first time all season.
25) Predators (11-12-6) (22)
Prior to Sunday’s loss, Pekka Rinne had been pulled in his last two starts allowing six goals on 14 shots in 34 minutes. Barry Trotz, the only coach in Predators franchise history, could be on the hot seat if they don’t turn things around soon.
26) Lightning (12-15-1) (26)
Despite a league-leading 20 goals form Steven Stamkos, the Lightning haven’t won back-to-back games in a month.
27) Avalanche (10-13-4) (24)
So much for drawing inspiration from handing the Blackhawks their first regulation loss. Colorado is 1-3 since then, and in last place in the Western Conference.
28) Capitals (12-15-1) (27)
Surprisingly despite sitting in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, the Capitals are seven points behind the division-leading Jets and play them twice this week.
29) Sabres (10-15-4) (30)
Hard to win games when you can’t score and allow three goals a game (which Buffalo has in eight of the past nine games).
30) Panthers (7-16-6) (29)
The Panthers have seven wins and 22 losses and a league-worst minus-39 goal differential. Ouch.