The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up as numerous teams vie for a spot in the NHL playoffs. With goaltender Ilya Sorokin performing at a Vezina level, the New York Islanders play a style of hockey that can cause problems for any opposition and might be the team the Presidents Trophy-elect Boston Bruins fear facing the most in the first round.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Omar, which of these teams would you like to see make the playoffs?
OMAR: So I'm coming from this from multiple angles. I agree with Avry. I think the Buffalo-- the Buffalo Sabres have done a lot of cool things this season. And I think what we saw this year is like the beginning of a new era for the Sabres. I think with all the talent that they have, I think seeing-- seeing players like Tage Thompson just like literally, like, stick his foot, like, in so many people's mouths, like mine included.
Like, I ripped on that deal. Like, they're going to give him that deal after one good year, and like, he just proved that, like, no, he's legitimate. So seeing all that [INAUDIBLE] is great. And I think, you know, finally seeing the Leafs and the Sabres play, like, legitimate games that matter is awesome.
However, on two fronts. So the Florida Panthers are only three points out, and I'm still weary of--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: As of this recording.
OMAR: As of this recording. And I'm still weary of their first round pick that's going to the haves being in the lottery. I don't want that. So there's that aspect there.
Now on the other, other hand, and this is why where I'm agreeing with Sam, is the Islanders are a team that can be very annoying in the playoffs. And I've been trying to think of, can there be a team in the East that can pull an LA Kings and upset the top team? Can a team do what Montreal-- can Montreal-- can a team do what Montreal did, go in as the eighth seed and take out number one?
And I'm looking at these other teams, and I think the Islanders have the best chance of taking out Boston in the first round. So because of that, I hope the Bos-- I hope the Islanders stay in that second wild card spot. I hope they channel all their defense. And I hope Bo Horvat sees the second round and takes Boston out. Knocking on wood because I don't want the karma, but that's what my answer is.
SAM CHANG: Bo Horvat taking out Boston would bring me a lot of joy.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: That's true. That's actually a pretty-- cause yeah, because Leafs fans wouldn't have to worry about the Bruins, especially if they win the first round. Canucks fans would be very happy, justice for 2011. OK, all right. I understand it.
I mean, yeah, Omar is right. They do play an annoying style in the playoffs. Ilya Sorokin is a Vezina-caliber goalie right now. If the Bruins get goalied, it's because of him, if it gets to that point.
OMAR: And is Barzal out indefinitely or is there-- is there a timeline there? Because if he-- if he can come back, and then if you can rekindle, or not really rekindle, but get that chemistry that we saw with him and Horvat going, you know, you know, that would be cool, that'd be sweet. So yeah, yeah. I'm Team Islanders.
SAM CHANG: He was out week-to-week three weeks ago.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah.
OMAR: Oh, it's week-to-week now?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah, there was no timetable for him to start skating, but that was a little while ago. It was almost a month ago.
OMAR: Mmm, I wonder if that changes.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I wonder if that changes too. I wonder if he'll be healthy enough for the postseason, if the Islanders should get there.