After an exhilarating 6-0 win over last season's Stanley Cup runners-up Detroit Red Wings on January 12, the New York Islanders now find themselves in the running in the Eastern Conference's playoff picture.
Right now, the Islanders are tied with the Montreal Canadians and the Ottawa Senators with 48 points each through 47 games.
For the Islanders, this is a moment to savor, as many expected the Isles to fail to make the playoffs and be a team that would continue to rebuild.
Last season, the Islanders finished dead last in the NHL with 61 points and had the first overall pick in the NHL Draft, which they used on John Tavares.
After a slow start to the season, the Islanders have been playing great hockey the last several months. Thanks to players such as Josh Bailey, Kyle Okposo, Matt Moulson and Tavares, the Islanders are now in the playoff chase.
In the month of January, the Islanders have had a 4-1-0 record, and goaltender Rick DiPietro has returned (after missing the last year due to arthroscopic surgery to his knee) to back up Dwayne Roloson, a major factor in the Islanders great run.
But now until the Olympic Break in the middle of February, the Islanders will have a very rugged schedule to deal with, as they will face the likes of the Sabres, the Devils (twice) and the Capitals at the Coliseum and will have to travel to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh; all these matches are in January.
In February, the Islanders will face the Predators and the Penguins before a major matchup against the Senators in the final game before the Olympic Break.
So with this in mind, the next four weeks will be extremely important for the Islanders if they are to attempt to get into the postseason for the first time since the 2006-2007 season.
For many players on the team, this will be their first real experience attempting to get into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and for Islander fans, it's an extremely exciting time as we will get to see what the team is made of.
So what do you think? Will the New York Islanders defy the odds and make the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
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