Using The Extra Day

Islanders have two consecutive practice days in preparation for Thursday's matchup with the Rangers

Tuesday, 02.12.2013 / 7:17 PM ET / News
By Travis Betts
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Using The Extra Day
Islanders have two consecutive practice days in preparation for Thursday\'s matchup with the Rangers
Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic says the team can't dwell on its recent struggles and must put forth a strong effort Thursday at the Rangers (Photo: Getty Images)

For just the second time in the 25-day old season, the Islanders have two consecutive practice days to prepare for a game.

Coming off a 6-4 loss to Carolina on Monday at Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders don’t play again until Thursday when they take on the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. To take advantage of the two-day break, Head Coach Jack Capuano put the players through a number of full-contact drills during Tuesday’s practice.

“This spot in the schedule gives us time to battle a little more than normal,” Capuano said. “We had a good skate today. I can’t fault their work ethic. Anybody that’s seen us play knows we’re limiting the opposition’s chances per game, but we’re just not finding a way to get it done right now. The guys are working hard. We’ve got to stay positive. We’re going through a funk right now, facing some adversity. We’ve just got to get back on track.”

Forward Josh Bailey believes the two days between games will benefit a team trying to shake off some bad momentum.

“Hopefully this will help a lot,” Bailey said. “I think you get a little bit of a mental break too. When you’re playing every other day, it seems like every day is a game day. You’re always preparing for a game, whether it’s the day of or the next day. So the mental break will be good for us as well.”

The Islanders power play struck for four goals on five opportunities against the Hurricanes Monday. By comparison, the penalty kill has allowed just four goals on 38 attempts all season, and has ranked in the top-5 league-wide throughout. Defenseman Travis Hamonic says the squad has to draw from what has worked on special teams and translate that into even strength play.

“We’ve been doing really well so far on the penalty kill,” Hamonic said. “We have to string a game together where both special teams and the five-on-five are working. It’s not very often you’re going to score four power play goals on five attempts. It’s frustrating. There’s room for improvement from everyone and the recent results haven’t been for a lack of trying.”

The Islanders have a minus-11 goal differential at even strength this season. Capuano says it’s the small details that need to change in order for the team to translate the special teams success into 5-on-5 success.

“We need a better sense of urgency and sense of defending,” Capuano said. “We’ve been in the right spots. But you have to defend properly. We lost d-side positioning a couple times, and at the same time, we defended with our sticks not on the ice. When you do that, they get opportunities. The days of cross-checking to move guys out are over. You have to defend with your stick when the puck is exposed, and we have to do a better job of that 5-on-5.”

In an attempt to spark the offense, Capuano moved Bailey, who had been skating with Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas in his first two games back from injury, to a line with Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo. Grabner, who’d previously occupied that spot, skated with Keith Aucoin and Colin McDonald while David Ullstrom joined Cizikas and Martin.

“Five-on-five, we need to score some more goals, so I think Cappy wanted to switch some things up,” Bailey said. “Obviously, last year Frans, Okie and myself had some success together. We want to carry that over into this year. Whether we just need lucky bounces or whatever the case may be, I think we’ve just got to keep pushing pucks to the net to get out of this slump.”

Heading into Thursday’s matchup against the Rangers, Hamonic knows that the team can’t dwell on its recent struggles.

“With the schedule being this condensed, you have to let it go,” Hamonic said. “You’re not going to play your best and you’re not going to have the best team effort every night even though you wish you could. You have to learn to evaluate it, take it for what it’s worth and move on. We have an exciting rivalry game coming up and we know we have to have a better effort going into their building.”

Including a matchup against New Jersey on Saturday and Philadelphia on Monday, the Islanders next three games will be against Atlantic Division opponents, whom they are chasing in the standings. With just three points separating the Islanders from eighth place in the Eastern Conference, the race for the playoffs is going to remain tight all season, making the upcoming divisional tilts crucial.




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 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
5 PIT 77 42 24 11 211 194 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 PHI 77 31 29 17 202 220 79
12 CBJ 76 37 35 4 210 234 78
13 NJD 77 31 33 13 170 197 75
14 CAR 76 28 37 11 176 208 67
15 TOR 78 29 43 6 204 249 64
16 BUF 77 22 47 8 152 258 52


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.

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