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Are the wounded Islanders in trouble come playoff time?

The New York Islanders have clinched a playoff spot, but that doesn’t mean that their work is finished.  If anything the work has just begun.  After a tough loss on Monday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Islanders find themselves three points back of the Capitals with two games to go.  In addition, they’re only two points up on the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have a game in hand.  These last two-to-three games of the season are going to have a huge impact on seeding and home ice advantage.

The Islanders may have clinched but they’re far from a perfect playoff team right now.  Inconsistent performances and lack of scoring have plagued them over the past two months.  Sure they’ve won games when they absolutely needed to but that doesn’t excuse the lack of scoring.  Probably the biggest problem with the Islanders right now is that they caught the injury bug at the absolute worst time.

The Isles don’t have many injuries but the ones they do have are crucial.  Their two biggest injuries are to Valtteri Filppula and Tanner Fritz.  Val’s been out for about two weeks or so and is currently week to week.  He’s been skating but hasn’t practiced due to his upper body injury, which most assume is a shoulder injury.  Fritz was supposed to be out for just a maintenance day this week, but it was discovered that he had a blood clot in his hand and he got surgery on it.  He’s out for the next 6-8 months.

These injuries may not seem big for a casual fan, but they are two catastrophic injuries going into the playoffs.  The Islanders’ Achilles Heel as a roster is their thin depth at center.  Both Fritz and Filppula are centers and this lack of depth has caused Leo Komarov to take over the 3C position.  It’s not ideal, and losing both on the penalty killing unit isn’t ideal either.

Are the Islanders in trouble?  Somewhat, but they’ve already been through a lot this season.  The thing Islanders fans have learned about their team this year is that no matter how bad it may look sometimes, the team always pulls through.  That’s the feeling fans should have going into the playoffs.  It’s not ideal but the Islanders brand of hockey is built on adversity and hard work.

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