The benchmark for the Islanders was set a year ago over their final 30 games after the All-Star break.
After a miserable January in which Lane Lambert’s job security was called into question, they went 17-9-4 to squeak into the playoffs on the last day with 93 points, most of that run coming after Mathew Barzal got injured in mid-February.
They will have 33 games left this season after returning from the All-Star break in Toronto a week from Monday.
This January was even worse, with Lambert getting removed for Patrick Roy behind the bench last week.
They will probably need to finish with more than 93 points, a total that would not have gotten them into the Eastern Conference playoffs in any 82-game season from 2017-22.
The sprint to the finish line needs to start as soon as the Islanders regather following the weeklong break.
Roy has talked about it being playoff hockey for the Isles from here on out.
His game management has backed that up.
Barzal’s time on ice in four games under Roy: 20:29, 25:11, 26:31, 23:42.
Bo Horvat’s: 20:38, 23:08, 26:05, 23:13.
Noah Dobson’s: 26:29, 27:57, 30:17, 27:25.
The record so far under Roy is 1-2-1 after a 3-2 overtime loss to the Panthers on Saturday.
The Islanders have looked like a better team, but they need progress to come in the form of results. Otherwise, the conversation will turn to next year sooner than they would like.
“Quite honestly, I know what we’re doing works, and I hope that our players feel the same,” Roy said Saturday. “I know we wanted that game. But I believe if we continue to play that way, good things will happen.”
With just over five weeks until the trade deadline and a banged-up roster, it will be hard for Lou Lamoriello to justify filling holes unless the Islanders offer some proof they can compete.
The health of Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock, respectively, will be key in how the Islanders approach the deadline.
Regardless, there would need to be a massive turnaround on the ice to justify trading a fifth straight first-round pick.
After two straight seasons without a playoff series victory and two head coaching changes, with Lamoriello offering belief in the group throughout, it is wholly on those in the dressing room to prove him right.
The last week has been a whirlwind for the Islanders, and they are still in the process of adjusting to Roy’s system.
A light first couple weeks of February — with just four games before the Feb. 18 Stadium Series match against the Rangers at MetLife Stadium — should include a heavy dose of practice time to help complete that process.
But it also needs to include some wins.
“It’s a change. It’s a different way to go about things,” Cal Clutterbuck told The Post on Saturday morning. “There are some habits that you have built into you from six or seven years of doing it a different way that you have to think yourself out of. But I think it also brings — once you go out there and do it properly — it brings results.
“Even if we don’t get the results, we haven’t the last couple games, you can see the difference in our team. That part of it is exciting. I would say there’s a lot of change, but at the same time, [Roy] does a really good job of making it as simple as possible. And I think we’re all excited to try something new and get out there and go on a run.”