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New York Islanders

Islanders Division Standing At Risk With New Year Schedule



AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

January of 2023 was anything but kind to the New York Islanders.

In total, they gained just 11 points in 15 games. After starting the calendar year tied for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, a brutal run of 2-8-3 saw them fall back six points in the standings before a pair of wins to close the month acted as a catalyst to propel them the rest of the way.

Looking at their schedule to begin 2024, the Islanders could be in store for a similar fate.

The Road Ahead:

After spending the majority of the season thus far at UBS Arena, the Islanders will have to adjust to life away from home. Eight of their 13 games in January take place on the road, with their longest homestand being only two games.

Tonight in Colorado, the Islanders continue their four-game road trip, which is already off to a poor start following their loss to the Penguins on Sunday night. They’re 7-6-3 in unfriendly territory.

The matchup with the Avalanche is also the first of six straight against teams currently in a playoff position. In fact, 12 of the Islanders’ next 18 games come against such teams.

Of all the things working against the Islanders in their upcoming schedule, the biggest might be that they don’t play a single Metropolitan Division opponent until they face the New York Rangers on Feb. 18 at MetLife Stadium.

Missing The Metro:

Divisional games carry more weight.

Not only because it’s a chance for a team to earn two points in the standings but also because they can steal two from a team they’re in direct competition with.

The Metro is shaping up to be the toughest division in the entire league. Currently, four points are separating six teams, and the Islanders are right in the middle of it. Now that the Islanders won’t see a single team from their division for over a month, it’ll be challenging for them to maintain their current standing.

“We start getting into the division games, and we know how important those are and how tight our division is,” Anders Lee said.

Lee’s comments came before a recent stretch of five straight games within the Metro. However, the Islanders didn’t help themselves all that much, collecting four out of a possible 10 points.

Now, while the Islanders are primarily focused on taming the West until the Stadium Series, their Metro rivals will play games of higher stakes against each other.

At the minimum, Philadephia and Columbus each have two divisional games. Pittsburgh and the Rangers play three, New Jersey gets four and Washington is spoiled with five.

In The Meantime:

Even if the Islanders go through these next few weeks and come out unscathed, the landscape of their division could look completely different without them being much of an influence by the time they arrive at MetLife.

Until then, there isn’t much else they can do other than play with the cards in their hand.

It’s not exactly a royal flush, but the Islanders can still come out as winners, even with the odds stacked against them.




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