(Editors Note: This story has been updated to reflect the Islanders’ lineup decisions ahead of Thursday night’s game.)
There is hope – not much – but there is hope for the Islanders to make the postseason, but they’ll need to win Thursday in Carolina to keep it alive.
The Islanders will battle the Hurricanes in the first of the team’s final three games of the regular season. The Islanders are five points back of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the last wild card spot in the east and six points back of the Ottawa Senators.
If the Islanders are hoping to have any chance of making the playoffs they will need to win all three of their remain games, as well as receive help from Toronto or Ottawa.
That is easier said than done considering the Islanders history this season with Thursday night’s opponent. The Islanders have beaten the Hurricanes once in four meetings this season, with that win coming in overtime thanks to the heroics of John Tavares.
Jaroslav Halak will be back in the Islanders net on Thursday. He made 22 saves in Tuesday’s overtime win over the Nashville Predators and finished the game with a .957 save percentage. Halak has been victorious in all three starts he has had since being called up from AHL Bridgeport.
The rest of the Islanders lineup will remain the same.
Thursday will be the third game the Islanders will play without their star captain on the ice. Tavares went down with a lower body injury late in last Friday’s win over the New Jersey Devils. The Islanders have also been without Casey Cizikas, Ryan Strome and Nikolay Kulemin.
Kulemin, however, did skate witht the team on Wednesday during practice in Carolina, which appeared to indicated that he could play on Thursday.
“He’s a big, important piece and we’ll see how he feels,” interim head coach Doug Weight said Wednesday, according to the Islanders website. “He did a lot of work yesterday, he’s going to skate today a little bit and we’ll get a report on him tonight, tomorrow morning and see how he’s doing. He’s here for a reason obviously.”
The Islanders used 11 forwards during Tuesday’s overtime win in Nashville and had Thomas Hickey play left wing. In a strange twist of fate, Hickey scored the overtime winner for the Islanders.
Tavares Won’t Need Surgery
There was some good news for the Islanders and their fans. John Tavares will not need surgery to repair a lower body injury that has sidelined him for the remainder of the regular season, according to Sportsnet’s Elliote Friedman. Tavares is expected to take a couple weeks to decompress, according to the hockey insider.
Toews Named to AHL All-Rookie Team
Bridgeport Sound Tigers’ defender and Islanders’ prospect Devon Toews was named to the 2016-17 AHL All-Rookie Team, the league announced on Wednesday. Toews, a 2014 fourth round pick, leads all AHL rookies in assists (37) and his 41 points has him tied the lead league among rookie defenseman. Toews also has five goals and has appeared in all 71 games this season for the Sound Tigers.
Nassau Coliseum Officially Reopened
Nassau Coliseum reopened the same with closed, with a concert by Billy Joel. The show was the first in the renovated venue’s new era, but even with the updated features and amenities some things remained the same.
New Coliseum same crowded corridor pic.twitter.com/WWUP2SXc4d
— Robert Brodsky (@BrodskyRobert) April 5, 2017
Setback for Nassau Coliseum Site Development
The renovated Nassau Coliseum may have been back in business, but the development of the 77 acres surrounding the building suffered a setback. Northwell Health withdrew plans to build a medical research facility at the Nassau Hub. The facility was going to be built on top of one of the two parking garages that will be constructed on the site.