When the Saturday, Jan. 23, game between these two teams was postponed because of a winter storm, it seemed as though it would be nothing more than a mere annoyance for both teams having to play a day after the regular season was originally scheduled to end on April 9.
At the time, the Islanders were in third in the Metropolitan Division, chasing the New York Rangers for second place in the division, comfortably ensconced in a postseason berth. The Flyers were an afterthought, eight points back of the Islanders and mired in seventh in the Metro. The playoffs? Ha. Cue that old video of former Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Mora.
But after Monday's 4-1 Flyers win over the Islanders in Brooklyn, Philadelphia is just three points back of the Isles, who are sitting in the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Both teams have 11 games remaining, including that now potentially season-deciding finale Sunday evening at the Barclays Center on April 10.
It's not too much of a stretch to suggest that had the game been played as originally scheduled, the Islanders would have put two more points in their pocket, and maybe their current slide -- they've lost four straight -- would be less concerning. But that’s not how Mother Nature mapped it out.
Now the Islanders are without starting goalie Jaroslav Halak, who's out until mid-April at the earliest because of injury, and are sliding toward the abyss having won once in their past seven outings (1-4-2). The Flyers, meanwhile, are on fire, having gone 9-3-1 in their past 13 games and trail the Detroit Red Wings, current owners of the second wild-card spot, by a point with a game in hand.
Drama? You’d better believe it.
The Flyers, expected by many to be at or near the bottom of the Metro standings and vying for a top draft pick, are playing with house money. The Islanders? Not so much. This team was expected to make the playoffs, and the fact that GM Garth Snow did nothing to materially improve his team at the trade deadline will put even more pressure on this team not just to make the playoffs but also to have a strong showing.
The Flyers, though, might have a different idea on how that script might play out -- and the final chapter might not be written until late in the evening of the last day of the season.