Rangers Can Severely Damage Islanders Playoff Hopes In Role Reversal

In 2021 the Islanders knocked the desperate Blueshirts out of the playoff race. Now in 2024, the Rangers can squander the Islanders final push in two head-to-head contests this week.
New York Islanders v New York Rangers
New York Islanders v New York Rangers / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

In 2021, the New York Rangers lost three crucial games to the New York Islanders, who advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals that summer.

Picking up the pieces from a difficult start to the year, the Rangers found themselves in the hunt and had to defeat their cross-town rivals in late April and early May to end the season.

It wasn't a storybook ending. The Rangers lost 6-1, 4-0, and 3-0. Fast forward three seasons, the Rangers have an opportunity to knock out the Islanders playing two games against them this week. Deja Vu? Full circle? It does have a rhyme to it.

"Since [they've] been in the Eastern Conference Finals [in 2021], no.. this is one of the biggest weeks in terms of finishing out the season," said Mike Bartner, a popular Instagram content creator.

The Islanders are third in the Metropolitan Division with 85 points in 77 games. They are treading water above the wild card race below just below the surface, as the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins each have 84 points, and the Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings have 83 points.

If the Rangers defeat the Islanders in two final five contests, their fate could rest in the other wild-card team's hands. The Tampa Bay Lightning have clinched the playoffs as the first Eastern Conference wild-card team at 93 points

The only available positions for the Islanders to make the playoffs are the third spot in the Metro and the second wild-card spot. One point separates them from third place and finishing outside of the playoffs.

"[The Islanders] have far more to play for than the Rangers. They're going to win the Metro, if [the Rangers] don't win the Presidents' Trophy it's not the end of the world for [them]...I think [the Islanders] do get it done considering how bad Detroit, Philadelphia, and Washington are playing."

The Long Island hockey club is in the driver's seat of the wild-card race, winning four games in a row, with a 6-4-0 record in their last 10 games. The Flyers are 2-7-2 in their last 10 games, the Red Wings are 4-4-2, and the Capitals are 3-5-2.

"Although Pittsburgh has really come on, the [Islanders] need to go 2-3 in their final five games to get in at this point. I think they'll get it done... they have Pittsburgh in the final game [of the season]. Even if they lose the next four, that game becomes win or go home and they still have that in their back pocket."

The Blueshirts are currently 8-2-0 in their last 10 games, arguably playing their best hockey in the final lap.