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Staying afloat

The Islanders' Kyle Okposo has 11 goals and 35 points in 51 game this season. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

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The Islanders' Kyle Okposo has 11 goals and 35 points in 51 game this season. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

It’s tough to know how optimistic to be about the New York Islanders these days.

For the first time in recent memory, they’re battling for a playoff spot and can certainly hold their own with the other underwhelming Eastern teams scrapping it out for seeds five through eight.

Rick DiPietro is back and has fared pretty well in four games, Kyle Okposo, still just 21, is starting to produce more and Matt Moulson has been a nice surprise, leading the team with 19 goals.

On the flip side, rookie John Tavares has two goals in his past 21 games and getting excited about anything related to DiPietro comes with well-documented perils.

The Isles have done a good job building organizational depth via the draft and, recent slide aside, Tavares certainly has the makings of a worthy centrepiece. Still, this team needs another blue-chipper on the roster before we can get really excited about the future.

For now, the Isles will try to take a collective step forward by earning a post-season berth in April. If nothing else, it would offer good experience and some positive re-enforcement for the kids already in-house.

THE HOCKEY NEWS POWER RANKINGS
RK.
TEAM
LW
OVERALL
L10
THE SCOOP
1
San Jose Sharks
5
35-10-8
8-1-1
Won four straight last week by an aggregate count of 22-5
2
Washington Capitals
2
33-12-6
9-1-0
Best five-on-five team in the NHL with a goals for/against ratio of 1.48, not to mention a league-leading power play that scores 26 percent of the time
3
Colorado Avalanche
6
30-15-6
7-3-0
Passed over for Team USA, Craig Anderson is 3-0 with two shutouts and a 0.33 GAA in his past three games
4
Chicago Blackhawks
1
35-13-4
6-3-1
People in the know say blueliner Niklas Hjalmarsson is one of the league's more underrated players
5
Vancouver Canucks
10
31-18-2
7-2-1
Providing a home for the wins their division rival in Calgary used to get
6
Pittsburgh Penguins
7
32-20-1
6-4-0
Won all three games they were slated to play in Philly this year
7
Buffalo Sabres
4
30-13-7
5-2-3
Despite three straight losses, Jason Pominville and Tim Connolly have looked great, putting up eight points each over their past four games
8
New Jersey Devils
8
34-15-1
5-5-0
Team that struggles to score enough already will miss Patrik Elias, who's out with a concussion
9
Los Angeles Kings
11
29-19-3
6-4-0
Drew Doughty continues to prove he deserves to play for Canada at the Olympics, putting up 12 points in his past 11 games
10
Ottawa Senators
16
28-21-4
6-4-0
Wins are way up, injuries way down
11
Phoenix Coyotes
9
29-18-5
4-5-1
Can't afford any extended lull if they're to hold down a top-eight spot out west
12
Nashville Predators
3
29-19-3
5-5-0
Jason Arnott has just one goal in his past 15 contests
13
Anaheim Ducks
14
24-21-7
8-2-0
After a rough first half, the Ducks are charging towards the playoffs with eight wins in their past 10 games
14
Philadelphia Flyers
17
26-22-3
7-3-0
Chris Pronger is on pace for 58 points, which would represent the third-highest total of his decorated career
15
Dallas Stars
25
22-19-11
4-6-0
The Stars are 1-8 in their past nine road games. That lone win came against the last-place Oilers
16
Detroit Red Wings
12
25-18-8
4-4-2
The Wings need more from Henrik Zetterberg, who went pointless in three games last week
17
Montreal Canadiens
21
25-23-5
4-4-2
Scott Gomez's totals could wind up being respectable if he keeps clicking with the red-hot Benoit Pouliot
18
Calgary Flames
13
26-19-6
2-7-1
The Flames’ six straight losses have led to rumors that Dion Phaneuf could be sacrificed to bring in some offense
19
New York Islanders
15
23-21-8
7-3-0
Kyle Okposo has started getting some points over the past month, leading the Isles with 35 through 51 games
20
New York Rangers
19
24-21-7
4-4-2
The Rangers scored one goal in three games, then buried 14 in two contests, only to be shut out in their past two outings. Ready for a Tortorella meltdown?
21
Minnesota Wild
20
25-23-4
5-4-1
A hot streak got the Wild back in the playoff picture, but the team has cooled significantly of late, dropping four of five
22
Boston Bruins
18
23-20-8
2-7-1
Five straight losses have the Bruins outside the playoff picture after last weekend's action
23
Florida Panthers
23
22-21-9
5-3-2
Losing leading scorer Nathan Horton for four-to-six weeks with a fractured tibia really hurts the Panthers’ post-season chances
24
St. Louis Blues
22
22-21-8
5-3-2
Brad Boyes' goal production is going the wrong way; two years ago it was 43, it dropped to 33 last year and this season he'll do well to hit 20
25
Tampa Bay Lightning
24
21-20-10
5-5-0
Only Joe Thornton, Henrik Sedin and Brad Richards have more helpers than Martin St-Louis' 42
26
Atlanta Thrashers
26
22-21-8
4-4-2
Kari Lehtonen saw his first action of the season this weekend, losing 5-4 while in net for the American League’s Chicago Wolves
27
Columbus Blue Jackets
29
20-25-9
5-5-0
Playoff teams looking for toughness will come calling about Raffi Torres
28
Carolina Hurricanes
27
16-28-7
5-5-0
A 5-1 win over Boston on Sunday has Carolina out of the league’s basement
29
Toronto Maple Leafs
28
17-26-10
2-7-1
Looks like Mike Komisarek will return from an upper-body injury this week
30
Edmonton Oilers
30
16-28-6
0-8-2
Moving Sheldon Souray's $5.4 million annual cap hit would be a coup

The Hockey News ranks the teams 1-30 each Monday based on a combination of last week’s play and a squad’s overall outlook.

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