Update (Saturday, April 4 @ 11:30 PM EST): The Islanders' 3-1 victory over Tampa Bay tonight keeps Tampa Bay in the race and gives both the Avs and the Bolts a legitimate hope of "catching" the Islanders in what MSG+ is calling "The Race to the Bottom". As we said on today's episode of HNLI, the Islanders were guaranteed the last place finish if they acquire 5 points or less going into tonight's game regardless of what the other two teams did. Now, that number is 3. Once the Islanders get 3 points, destiny is no long entirely in their hands. I would not put it past Tampa or Colorado to lose the rest of their games this season. Therefore, the Islanders would truly be jeopardizing their future by winning any more. That said, the Islanders have a tough schedule coming up that will allow me to sleep this evening.
Update (Saturday, April 4 @ 11:30 AM EST): In the only action in the "Race for Last Place" last night, the Lightning lost to the New Jersey Devils.....IN OVERTIME!!! This expands the Islanders' "lead" over Tampa to 7 points, while the cushion with Colorado is idle at 5 points. This is all guaranteed to change tonight when the Islanders take on the Lightning on home ice. Expect to see plenty of Isles fans verbally rooting for Tampa tonight. Nobody wants to see the Isles miss the opportunity to draft a gem like Tavares.
Update (Friday, April 3 @ 6:30 PM EST): Last night's loss against Montreal brings the Islanders down to 5 games remaining in the season and a 5 point cushion seperating them from Colorado. The Tampa Bay Lightning are the third team in contention with just one more point than the Avalanche.
If the Lightning beat the Islanders tomorrow night, however, it would virtually put them out of contention for the first pick. Without Vinny Lecavalier, however, it's anybody's guess who will come out on top in the game that nobody wants to win. As for the Avs, their next contest is on Sunday night against the Vancouver Canucks. With 8 straight losses, it looks as though the Canucks will be a tough test for Colorado.
I personally believe that Colorado is not going to start winning. It is up to the Islanders to "win" this race on their own.
With less than half a dozen games left on each team's schedule, the Islanders and the Colorado Avalanche are both vying for last place in the standings and more importantly a 48% chance at the first overall draft pick. With this pick, the top team will have the choice between Canadian phenom John Tavares and the Swedish D-man Victor Hedman.
The most recent standings have the Islanders with 59 points and the Avs with 64. Still, nobody should be counting out the Avalanche just yet. In addition to the fact the Islanders still have one more game to play (and potentially gain points in), the Avalanche are on quite a tear as of late. Colorado has lost a ridiculous 8 games in a row and is showing no signs of turning things around.
According to HNLI statistician Steve, the Islanders' magic number currently stands at 7 points (pre-Islanders v. Montreal). This number can be reached via the Islanders losing points (2 for a regulation loss, 1 for an OT loss) or the Avalanche picking up points (2 for a win, 1 for an OT loss).
Needless to say, emotions are running high amongst Islander fans. With the Avalanche plummeting, it seems it might be up to the Isles to continue losing. Despite losing 2 in a row, the team has looked pretty good as of late. Wednesday evening's game against Washington showed signs of a disaster before Mike Green pulled it out for the Caps. With 6 Islander games left this season, I don't think any fan can even pretend to be rooting for the Orange and Blue.
Sweepstakes At A Glance (Remaining Schedules):
Islanders: Montreal, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Boston
Avalanche: Vancouver, San Jose, Dallas, Vancouver, St. Louis