For the first time since the 2006-07 season, the New York Islanders are playoff bound.
Excessively negative folks will crow about them clinching a spot with a shootout loss (4-3 to Carolina on Tuesday), but even that defeat parallels the Isles’ successes. They finished strong and John Tavares was prominently involved.
The potential Hart Trophy candidate scored his 27th goal of 2013 at a crucial time, tying it up 3-3 with about a minute left in regulation.
While some might say that the Southeast Division champion Washington Capitals are the hottest team in the NHL, the Islanders deserve to be in that conversation. They’ve registered a standings point in every April game (8-0-3) and have really been red-hot since March 24, going 11-1-3 in their last 15 games.
If the Islanders maintain control of the sixth seed, they might just get to prove that they’re hotter than the Caps by way of a first-round series.
Merely having that conversation with the guarantee of a playoff spot has to be a sweet sensation for Isles fans.