With points in 8 of their 15 games since March 1, the Islanders cannot be accused of tanking. And they're not about to start now.
Contrary to speculation in some media circles, sources tell Point Blank that the Islanders have no intention of shutting down top defenseman Mark Streit and top forward Kyle Okposo for the final five games of the season. While both are likely to miss Saturday's home match against Tampa Bay, the team hopes to have their key players back in the lineup on Tuesday when they play in Carolina.
Islanders coach Scott Gordon made his position on the roster clear after last night's loss to Montreal. "If they're healthy, they're going to play," he said.
With Ryan Smyth done in Colorado and Vincent Lacavalier opting for surgery in Tampa Bay, some have made the leap that the Islanders' reaction was, "Oh yeah? We're taking out Okposo"! But that's not happening.
Except for some late-season fun with the shootout extra-point - tomorrow's plan: Rechlicz, Danis, Boggsy the trainer - the Islanders are proceeding like an organization that wants to win every game.
WEEKEND FORECAST IN TAVHEDUCH
I know this is awful, but I'm going to do it anyway. I am locking in the following for this weekend:
- The Lightning lose tonight in New Jersey.
- The Islanders defeat the Lightning on Saturday at the Veterans Memorial.
- Colorado loses Sunday in Vancouver.
If all goes to form, here's what the Tavheduch Watch will look like heading into the final week of the season:
1. Islanders 26-43-9 61 pts (4 games remaining)
2. Colorado 31-45-2 64 pts (4 GR)
3. Tampa Bay 24-38-17 65 pts (3 GR)
On Tuesday, the Islanders play in Carolina (perhaps with Streit and Okposo back), Tampa Bay hosts Pittsburgh and Colorado plays in San Jose.
If you have any trouble sleeping, you'll probably have plenty of company.