The Isles are already guaranteed a top-5 seed in the draft lottery (and a chance at Tavares). While they can catch LA or Phoenix, they can't catch them both because those teams have a pair of games left with each other.
If the Isles were to lose in regulation tonight, they wouldn't be able to catch either Phoenix or LA; if Atlanta gains 1 point and the Isles lose in regulation, or if the Thrashers win and the Isles don't, the Isles won't be able to catch Atlanta either.
This would guarantee themselves a top-3 choice.
Regardless of what happens in their game, the Isles will be rooting against Phoenix tonight -- the Coyotes vist Colorado. The 29th place Avs are in free-fall, having dropped 7 straight.
The 28th place Lightning, fresh off their loss in Boston last night, are idle until Friday when they visit New Jersey in advance of the "must lose" game against the Isles on Saturday. Could you imagine if that game reaches a shootout, particularly if say the Isles win on Wednesday/Thursday and the Lightning lose on Friday? What shooters would be chosen?
Of course, (he says with a sarcastic grin) either team could jut invoke the last paragraph of rule 84.4.
You know that one, don't you? "If a team declines to participate in the shootout procedure, the game will be declared as a shootout loss for that Team. If a team declines to take a shot it will be declared as "no goal.""
Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since 1982.