After losing consecutive games in regulation for the first time all season, and going 2-5-1 to start December, the Islanders are experiencing their first serious bump in the road to qualifying for the playoffs. No one said it would be easy, but with team defense and goaltending like this, it's actually incredible they're currently in a wild card spot. The Islanders have given up more goals this season than every team in the NHL except Arizona.
Will it make you feel any better today if I provide a little perspective? For about half of my time with the Islanders, we were out of the playoff picture before the holiday party.
No? Okay, then let's take a look at the Metropolitan Division and measure up what will be a crazy playoff chase. By decree of the NHL's unique system, at least three Met teams will not make the playoffs this season. The top three teams in the Met get spots, and then there are the two wild cards available. That means, while it's difficult to take the Hurricanes or even the surging Flyers too seriously at this point, one from a group consisting of the three locals, plus the Penguins, Capitals, and Blue Jackets is not going to make it. Here's how I rate the Met Eight, from most likely to qualify to ones in doubt...