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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Last Time First (Place)

If the Islanders defeat the Devils on Thursday, they will have at least a share of the Division lead.  If they do so in regulation, they will have first place all to themselves.

The Isles had a share of the Division lead after their win over Toronto last week, but if they earn a share of first Thursday (with an OT/SO win), it would be the latest in a season that they have shared first since 10/22/2010, when they were 4-1-2.  (Scott Gordon would not win another game, and the Isles would fall to 4-12-5 before they would win again.)

If the Isles win in regulation, they will have first place all to themselves for the first time in the Tavares era.

You have to go back to the early days of the 2007-08 season to find the last time.
(After games of Oct 12 2007)
Atlantic GP       W        L          OTL     GF       GA       Pts
NYI       5          3          2          0          13        17         6
PHI       3          2          1          0          14         9          4
NYR     4          2          2          0           9          7          4
PIT       3          1          2          0           8         11         2
NJD      4          1          3          0          7          11         2

The Isles actually spent three days (Oct 10-12) all alone in first place, after a 2-1 win over the Rangers on October 10th.  They played on October 11th, but lost 8-1 to Toronto. 

However, to find the Isles in first place by themselves this late in the season, you have to go back to December of 2006.  Viktor Kozlov's 4-goal game at MSG on December 3, 2006 put the Islanders into 1st place, one point ahead of the Devils and the Rangers.  The Isles held first place for the next two days as well.  Thus, December 5, 2006 is the last time this late in the season that the Isles have been in first place.

(After the games of Dec 5, 2006)
Atlantic Division W-L-OT Pts GF GA

NY Islanders 14-10-3 31 81 75

New Jersey 14-9-2 30 62 66

NY Rangers 13-10-4 30 88 87

Pittsburgh 11-11-4 26 77 83

Philadelphia 8-15-4 20 68 102

The Isles have not been in first place after Christmas in any season since the 1995 lockout campaign.  They opened that season 2-0-1 and had the divisional lead by themselves as late as January 28 and in a tie on January 29.

To get there on Thursday, it would probably be helpful to score more than one goal.  The Devils have held the Isles to exactly one goal in five straight games (although the Isles won the first game, 1-0).

Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since January 21, 1982. Visit my blog: NYISkinny.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

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