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.”
The Avalanche will be throwing a bunch of different looks at us this season.
Having already released specialized “Mile High” jerseys for February’s Stadium Series game, the Avs unveiled new third sweaters on Friday — less than 24 hours after a bitter 5-4 home loss to Minnesota in their season opener.
(Guess Colorado wanted to send out some good vibes after blowing a 4-1 third-period lead.)
While undoubtedly exciting for the organization, the release of these new thirds isn’t taking anybody by surprise. Last month, several websites published leaked images of Colorado’s and Anaheim’s third jerseys, so the design has been in the public eye for several weeks.
The Avs will debut these new thirds on Oct. 24, in a Saturday night tilt against Columbus.
Related: Roy explains why he didn’t call time out
Hey, remember in June when the NHLPA voted to keep the five-percent growth factor in spite of increasing worries about escrow?
Well, here’s why that decision was a significant one, via TSN’s Frank Seravalli:
With early revenue projections in place, the NHL and NHLPA set the escrow withholding rate for players at 16 per cent for the first quarter of the season on Thursday.
That means every player will have 16 per cent of earnings deducted from their paycheque and put aside until after all of this season’s hockey-related revenue is counted to ensure a perfect 50-50 revenue split with owners.
Now, this doesn’t mean that the players will definitely lose 16 percent of their salaries. Typically, they receive refunds when all the accounting is done.
Still, 16 percent is a good-sized chunk to withhold. They won’t be thrilled about it.
Related: To understand escrow, consider Duncan Keith