Islanders Insight’s Top Shelf: 3/6/16

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The calendar is nearly a week into the month of March. The playoffs are less than a month-and-a-half away. It’s appropriate to begin speculating over who teams in playoffs positions will face in the first round. Tonight’s game has more than a hint of a playoff preview as the third-place New York Islanders travel to Madison Square Garden to take on their bitter rivals, the New York Rangers.

With three games-in-hand, the Islanders sit just five points behind the Rangers for second-place in the Metropolitan Division. With 77 points, the Islanders also sit four points above the Pittsburgh Penguins who occupy the second wild-card position. Fortunately for the orange and blue, they also have played two fewer games than Pittsburgh, therefore have a fairly strong hold over the final playoff spot in the Metro.

By virtue of finishing third to the Rangers in second, the Islanders would lack home-ice advantage in a potential first-round series between the rivals. However, as bitter a pill it may be to swallow, even if the Islanders finished in second-place, it’s certainly possible that the entire series would be considered Rangers’ home games.

Throughout history Rangers fans have always traveled well when playing the Islanders. With playoff ticket prices escalating, it’s realistic that games at Barclays Center would be attended by a large contingent of Rangers fans. Therefore, tonight’s matchup at MSG will provide a “test-run” of a playoff series between the teams. The Islanders will have to learn to play without an overwhelming fanbase at home games. It would behoove the team to quiet the Garden crowd early, and often.

Islanders Links:

Three things we learned from Thursday’s victory in Winnipeg

Calvin de Haan is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury

NHL Links:

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