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Islanders playoff hopes are not dead, but are on life support

Can the Islanders hang on and get the final wild-card spot in the East?

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What transpired over 60 minutes in the Wells Fargo Center Thursday night was not the death of the 2016-17 New York Islanders season.

It’s just on life support.

“S—,” was the word interim coach Doug Weight selected in order to describe his team’s opening 20 minutes in their embarrassing 6-3 loss. The Flyers scored five first period goals in the rout.

“I don’t know a team that could come back from 5-0,” Weight continued. “Piss poor first period.”

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As of this writing, the Islanders enter the final nine games of the regular season six points out of the second and final Eastern Conference wild card berth.

In order to reach the playoffs for the third straight season and the fourth in the last five years, it appears likely the Islanders will have to win all five of their remaining games and hope that the teams in front of them — Boston, the current second Eastern Conference wild card holder, ninth seed Tampa Bay and 10th seeded Carolina — lose.

“It’s going to be difficult,” Cal Clutterbuck said. “You win all your games then you just sit around and watch. It’s all you can do.”

Therein lies the rub.

Prior to Friday night’s home date against the Devils, the Islanders had lost nine of their 15 games in March (6-7-2), including three straight. The Islanders have been outscored by an aggregate 52-42. Even though the Islanders are scoring 2.8 goals per game, they’re allowing 3.46.

“We’re just not working smart. We’re making dumb plays and that can’t happen and they’re ending up in the back of our net,” Casey Cizikas said. “There’s really no words that can describe this feeling. It sucks. We just have to move forward and do whatever we can to win games. It’s this time of year. We have to figure it out. We have to come out, we have to play and we have to play 60 minutes. That’s the bottom line and if we don’t do that we’re not a good team.

“That’s what has been killing us so we just have to make sure that we try to do everything possible to win these last games.”

Cizikas’ words essentially echoed those of Weight following the Islanders’ 3-2 overtime loss to the playoff-bound Blue Jackets on March 18. Following that game, Weight criticized his team for listless play in the first two periods.

It was a theme he repeated in the bowels of the Wells Fargo Center after what could be accurately described as one of the worst periods of the season.

“It’s absolutely floating, not engaged with anything. Just floating through the D-zone. Floating through the neutral zone,” Weight said before being asked if he was concerned about his team’s approach in the season’s most vital games.

“Yeah,” Weight said. “Yeah, I am.”

You can follow Metro New York NHL writer Denis P. Gorman on Twitter at @DenisGorman.

 
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