It's almost over Isles fans.
The Isles' loss coupled with the Avs' shootout loss last night officially eliminated the Avs from being guaranteed a top two pick in next year's NHL draft. More importantly, this leaves just the Isles and the Lightning with a guaranteed a top two pick and the chance to draft either John Tavares or Victor Hedman.
Either an Isles loss or a Lightning win will guarantee that Tavares or Hedman will be wearing an Isles jersey on draft day, unless G.M. Garth Snow pulls off some crazy deal and trades the pick (don't count on it; the days of Mad Mike Milbury are long gone, and Snow knows what he is doing).
This draft is pivitol to the Isles' rebuilding plan and adding one of these guys to the lineup will be a big step towards turning the Isles into a contender again.
I've read over some comments on Isles message boards and blogs, and the general consensus is that people hope they lose a hard-fought game tomorrow in Pittsburgh so we can go to the Coliseum for this weekend's final two games and be able to cheer the team on without having to worry about a win hurting their chances at drafting either Tavares or Hedman.
Now I'm not one to think that a team should tank because, as Herm Edwards said, "You play to win the game!" I believe that teams should be going out and playing hard to win games, no matter where they are in the standings.
I also have never believed in tanking because it can give the young guys a feeling that losing is alright and accepted in the organization, which is not the mindset that these players should have.
But I'm also not one who will tell fans how they should feel for a franchise that hasn't won a playoff series in 16 years now though. This team has not necessarily tanked though, and for the most part showed up to every game (except last night) and played hard.
That being said, I (along with the rest of the respective Isles' fanbase) hope for is a hard-fought game tomorrow night, where the Isles end up falling short. They've been in last place for most of the year, so one more loss won't hurt the development of the young guys in the lineup.
If they do lose tomorrow, we can all go back to rooting for the team to win starting this weekend for the remaining two games.
But more importantly, they've come too far in this sweepstakes to lose a guarantee to add Tavares or Hedman to the organization.