The New York Islanders were eliminated from playoff contention recently, thus ending a really disappointing season. They had a breakout campaign by Matt Barzal, but the defense and goaltending were really, really bad.
2018 NHL Playoff Advice – Islanders, Blues and Jets
With that being said, how in the world can John Tavares even consider coming back to New York? He’s a free agent this season and has to look at this thing as a complete mess. Yes, the Islanders will get a new arena in a couple of years, but does Johnny T really want to waste another couple of prime seasons? It’s not like the Isles have a goalie prospect ready to wow the world. They won’t be much better in the coming years. So these last few games could end the captain’s time on the Island in sad, indifferent fashion.
How in the world could Tavares stay there? This team is so far away from winning a cup – and that’s WITH him in the lineup.
Here come the Blues
When St. Louis traded away Paul Stastny at the NHL trade deadline, we all assumed that this team would go down the tubes. He was a key piece of the team, albeit at free agent at the end of the season. And for a while, the Blues did exactly that. They struggled. After an injury to Carter Hutton in nets, Jake Allen was pressed back into starting duties and began to excel. A funny thing has happened. Despite the usual rash of Blues injuries (including Tarasenko missing time), St. Louis went on a massive winning streak and vaulted not only into the playoff picture, but they now hold the top wildcard spot. Credit to the Blues coaching staff and the team leadership for not giving up on their season.
Perhaps, without any pressure on them for once, the Blues can overachieve in the playoffs and get to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since Scotty Bowman coach them in the early years.
The Jets are flying
Normally, when a team has clinched a playoff spot, they take the foot off the gas a little bit and rest some veterans, etc. Not the Winnipeg Jets. They are on fire right now, recently defeating some of the league’s best teams. The Jets have only made the postseason once since returning to Winnipeg. It seems like things have finally fallen into place for the club. They battled their own share of tough injuries, including a month-long absence by top center Mark Scheifle. Captain Blake Wheeler is being hailed as the best leader in the game. And it’s hard to argue at the moment. At 19 to 2 NHL betting odds to win the Stanley Cup, Winnipeg may just be a solid play right now.
Matthew Ross is a radio host on TSN 690 in Montreal, Canada, and a contributor to ESPN Radio 101.3 Plattsburgh/Burlington. Follow @MatthewWords