The last time the New York Islanders made the playoffs, Jason Blake led the team in scoring, Rick DiPietro was in the first year of his 15-year contract, and John Tavares was still two years from being drafted.
That was the 2006-07 season.
The Isles would lose their first-round series to Buffalo in five games.
Five straight failures to qualify for the postseason would follow.
But that drought could end soon. With eight games left on their 2013 schedule, the Isles sit seventh in the Eastern Conference, two points clear of the ninth-place Jets.
According to Sports Club Stats, the Isles have a 77.4 percent chance of making the playoffs.
“It’s a great feeling right now,” said Tavares after Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Flyers, the Isles’ seventh victory in their last nine. “We know we can play with any team in the league.”
New York’s remaining schedule does, however, offer one reason for fans to be nervous. Of the team’s last eight games, six are on the road.
Granted, the Isles have been very good (11-5-2) away from Nassau Coliseum, and their last four road games are against teams currently outside the top eight in the East — but when you’ve missed the playoffs five straight seasons, you get used to things going wrong.
“We’re focusing on one game at a time knowing that we control all of our cards in our hands,” forward Michael Grabner said. “We still have a lot of work to do.”