Back To The Grind

Islanders players return to Long Island for start of a condensed regular season

Monday, 01.7.2013 / 5:41 PM ET / News
By Travis Betts
Share with your Friends

Back To The Grind
Islanders players return to Long Island for start of a condensed regular season
Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano talked with the media Monday about the upcoming season (Photo: New York Islanders)

It’s hockey time on Long Island.

Sunday's announcement that a new Collective Bargaining Agreement had been reached between the NHL and the NHLPA meant a return to normalcy for Islanders players, coaches and front office staff.

While many players are in the midst of a mass exodus from their respective European leagues, many Islanders players who chose to remain stateside practiced together at Iceworks for the first time Monday. Matt Moulson, Matt Carkner, Eric Boulton, Marty Reasoner and Rick DiPietro went through an informal player-led bag skate Monday.

After practice, it didn’t take long for Moulson to start talking about the squad the Islanders will put on the ice once the season gets started.

“It was a good drive from Connecticut into Long Island today,” Moulson said. “I was anxious to get back and to see all the guys in practice and get together as a team. I know we’re excited about some of our offseason moves and the guys we added. We’ve got a real good group in here, so it’s definitely exciting.”

In addition to the 16 players from last season’s squad who are still in the organization, the Islanders acquired defenseman Matt Carkner, as well as forwards Eric Boulton and Brad Boyes during the offseason. While Head Coach Jack Capuano acknowledged that there are a lot of question marks as far as how the Islanders roster will look on opening night, he was optimistic about how quickly the returning roster should re-acclimate to the system.

“We made a few acquisitions in the offseason, but we’ve got a lot of the same guys,” Capuano said. “We’re not going to change a whole lot. Most of the guys know one another, and the guys who we’ve brought in are high-character guys. We brought in some physicality with Carkner and Boulton, so I like where we are right now. I’m looking forward to getting camp started.”

Between the handful of players competing in Europe and the prospects in AHL Bridgeport, there should be healthy competition for roster spots. Since the Sound Tigers are mid-season, Capuano and General Manager Garth Snow have decisions to make regarding which prospects will be pulled from their current squad for an Islanders tryout.

“Let’s face it, the guys who have been playing have a little bit of an edge,” Capuano said. “But there’s certain guys down in Bridgeport that we’ve targeted who we think can help our club. Garth and I will sit down with our staff here over the next week and see where we are with our health first, and see which guys can come up. I think we’re going to bring some guys up for training camp to give them a look.”

It’s going to be a game every other day on the schedule. We’re going to have to be professionals, monitor what we’re doing and take the time to take care of our bodies. - Islanders defenseman Matt Carkner

Moulson, who remained nearby during the work stoppage, has kept up with the Sound Tigers progress and echoed Capuano’s sentiments.

“I’ve had a lot of opportunities to go watch Bridgeport play because my brother-in-law, Sean Backman, plays there,” Moulson said. “Some guys are having real good seasons and it’ll be good for them to come in. Whoever comes in for camp – I don’t even know yet how it’s going to work – but hopefully they’ll bring that confidence and that jump that they’ve already gotten on the season into camp, and push other guys.”

The schedule has not yet been set for the 2012-13 season, but an abridged Training Camp is likely to commence within the next few days in anticipation of a mid-January regular season start. Carkner said the challenge for him, as one of the new players, is learning the Islanders system in such a short time.

“Something that I have to do is spend a little extra time working with the x’s and o’s, seeing what [Capuano] wants and what the defensemen here do,” Carkner said. “Every little thing on the ice, the 2-on-1’s, 3-on-2’s, penalty kill and everything – you have to take your time, go through the book, and make sure you’re educated before you go out there and do it.”

The regular season is expected to consist of 48-50 games compacted into a short window between January and April. Three-to-four day rest periods between games on a typical schedule will likely be replaced with a game every other night. Moulson said that the grueling pace and fewer games gives each contest added meaning.

“In a shortened season, every game is that much more important,” Moulson said. “We were excited in the summer to get on the ice and compete and see what we have this year. Nothing has changed from that standpoint.”

Defenseman Matt Carkner fires a shot on goal during Monday's informal skate (Photo: New York Islanders)

“It’s going be grueling,” Carkner added. “It’s going to be a game every other day on the schedule. We’re going to have to be professionals, monitor what we’re doing and take the time to take care of our bodies. We’re going to have to learn quick. It’s a fast league here and you don’t want to be left behind.”

With the shortened schedule, any team that goes through a slump has a higher hill to climb to get into the postseason picture. An optimistic DiPietro flipped the script on that scenario.

“Obviously that’s one of the things you have to be aware of, but at the same time, if you go on a hot streak, it puts you right where you need to be to set you up for the playoffs,” DiPietro said. “I think it only benefits us that we had a lot of guys playing, so we have a lot of guys coming into camp in shape. Maybe that’s what we’ve been missing. Maybe we’re a bunch of thoroughbred sprinters and this 48-game schedule will be good for us.”




1 x - NYR 76 48 21 7 231 179 103
2 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
3 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 WSH 77 42 25 10 227 190 94
7 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
8 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
9 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
10 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
11 CBJ 76 37 35 4 210 234 78
12 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
13 NJD 77 31 33 13 170 197 75
14 CAR 76 28 37 11 176 208 67
15 TOR 77 29 42 6 201 245 64
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50


J. Tavares 77 34 43 -2 77
R. Strome 76 16 32 20 48
K. Okposo 55 16 31 -11 47
F. Nielsen 76 14 28 8 42
B. Nelson 77 19 22 7 41
A. Lee 71 23 16 10 39
J. Bailey 65 15 23 3 38
J. Boychuk 67 8 25 9 33
N. Leddy 73 10 21 14 31
T. Hamonic 67 5 26 16 31
J. Halak 36 16 2 .913 2.42
M. Neuvirth 1 3 1 .881 2.94 is the official Web site of the New York Islanders Hockey Club, L.P. and are trademarks of New York Islanders Hockey Club, L.P.  NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 New York Islanders Hockey Club, L.P. and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.

Privacy Policy |  AdChoices |  Terms of Use |  Contact  Us |  Employment |  Webmaster | Terms of Use