Islanders celebrate their 2-1 OT win over the Kings on Saturday
The New York Islanders are currently tied for 11th place in the Eastern Conference with 54 points. They have a 23-23-8 record and are just eight points out of a playoff spot. They have a game or two in hand on most of the teams ahead of them.
It will be a challenge for sure, but the Islanders still have hope for the playoffs. There are still 28 games left.
But in order to achieve their goal of making the playoffs, the Islanders are going to need to do the following.
P.A. Parenteau has been a great player for the Islanders. He's one of Garth Snow's best finds, and can be considered a hidden treasure.
About a week ago, the Islanders re-signed Frans Nielsen to a few more years.
Parenteau is tied for fifth in the NHL in assists with 37. He has 11 goals to go with those.
If the Isles re-signed Nielsen, they'd be crazy not to re-sign Parenteau. If the Isles want to have a legitimate chance at making the postseason, they need P.A.
He's a great versatile player who will perform on any line. The Isles have almost $14 million in cap space to work with, so they might as well sign Parenteau for about four to five years for about $3 million per year.
I know a lot of teams are interested in Evgeni Nabokov, and I may get some negative feedback, but the Isles absolutely need Nabby if they want to make the run for the playoffs.
Nabokov has been the Isles' best goaltender by far. He has a 13-13 record, a .927 save percentage and a 2.19 goals-against average. Fantastic numbers.
Al Montoya is a decent goaltender, but the Isles need a goalie who can steal games when every single point is crucial. Nabby is that goaltender.
The Isles need to keep Nabby on the Isles past the trade deadline if they're going to have a good shot at the postseason.
As of late, the Islanders' secondary scoring has finally picked up. A lack of secondary scoring has been what's hindered the team for most of the season.
But in the past few games, the Isles have seen guys like Michael Grabner, Frans Nielsen, Matt Martin and Mark Streit on the score sheet.
The Isles are going to need to keep seeing production from guys like them. And maybe even get increased production from those names.
All good teams need secondary scoring, and if the Isles want to make a serious playoff push, they need these guys to show up.
For most of the season, the Isles' top line has carried them. John Tavares, Matt Moulson and P.A. Parenteau/ Kyle Okposo have done most of the team's scoring, when all the secondary offense was invisible.
Now, the roles seem to be reversed. It's not too concerning, but the top line has seemed to slow down recently over the course of the past few games.
Look for Tavares and Moulson to rebound soon. A possible spark for the top line would to maybe replace Okposo with Parenteau or Grabner.
Parenteau would help set up Tavares and Moulson again, and the latter two could get Grabner heated up. I'll leave that decision up to Jack Capuano.
Remember when I said the Isles need to keep their secondary scoring going? Derek Roy would be a great addition to the Isles who would help this cause.
Roy has 11 goals and 16 assists and would be a third-line player. Roy would be a rejuvenated player as well on the Isles, as he is struggling on a weak offensive Sabre team.
Roy is a good forward who likes to stick around the front of the net, similar to Matt Moulson.
Being surrounded with young Islanders talent could help Roy.
Since the Sabres are a struggling team on offense, the Islanders could trade them a player like Josh Bailey and maybe a draft pick or prospect.
This would be a reasonable trade, and the Sabres could use a young talented player like Bailey. The Isles won't need Bailey in a few years anyway, when their prospects reach the NHL.
I can't believe Jack Capuano has kept Nino Niederreiter on the fourth line with Tim Wallace and Jay Pandolfo this long.
Pandolfo and Wallace are good role players, but that's about it. They don't have much offensive talent.
A rookie like Nino trying to get his feet wet in this league needs more talented players to develop.
The Isles should at least put Niederreiter on a line with guys like Martin, Nielsen, Parenteau or Grabner. Even Rhett Rakhshani is on a better line than Nino.
If Niederreiter got to play with more talented forwards and saw more ice time, he'd have way more than just one point this year.
A more productive Nino equals a more productive offense. Think about it, Capuano.
The Islanders have lost a few points this year because of their failure to maintain multi-goal leads. No team can make those big mistakes.
I can name a couple of instances right off the top of my head.
For one, the Isles had a two-goal lead against the Toronto Maple Leafs and gave up three straight goals. The Isles tied it on a lucky deflection but lost the game in overtime.
And more recently, the team had a three-goal lead at one point against the Buffalo Sabres, but gave up three straight goals and lost in a shootout.
No team can afford to give up those points—especially a team fighting to climb up the ladder for a playoff berth.
The Isles need to get leads and hold them, to secure all the points they can possibly grab.
One of the things that plague the Islanders is the fact they constantly are getting out-shot.
Something fans who attend games often all know, is that the Isles are reluctant to shoot the puck on the power play.
I was at the Buffalo game when they lost 4-3 in a shootout, and I was yelling at Mark Streit to shoot the puck. You can't score if you don't get pucks to the net, and that's something the Isles need to work on.
Coming down the stretch, the Isles can score more goals if they take more shots. They'll need to do this to keep winning games and make the playoffs.