Islanders Ready To Push Through Second Half

With half the season in the books, the Islanders are in position to make a playoff surge

Friday, 03.8.2013 / 4:52 PM ET / News
By Travis Betts
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Islanders Ready To Push Through Second Half
With half the season in the books, the Islanders are in position to make a playoff surge
Jack Capuano believes his team is set to make a playoff push over the last 49 days of the regular season (Photo: Getty Images)

Exactly halfway through the shortened 2012-13 season, the Islanders are entrenched in the battle for one of eight Eastern Conference playoff spots.

At 10-11-3, they sit just three points behind the eighth-place New York Rangers. Partially the result of a shortened season and partially due to parody, 10 teams are within seven points of one another in the Eastern Conference standings. While the Islanders are still technically on the outside looking in at a playoff spot, center John Tavares believes the group is poised to make a push toward their first postseason appearance since 2007.

“We’re still right in the thick of things just like many other teams,” Tavares said. “We know that we can still be a lot better. We haven’t been as consistent as we would like to be. We haven’t really sustained momentum when we have been successful and we have to be better on home ice. So there’s still a lot to do better in the second half here.”

The Islanders are learning to battle through adversity to win tight hockey games. They allowed a game-tying goal in the third period Tuesday against the first-place Montreal Canadiens, but kept on the gas pedal to score three over the final period en route to a 6-3 win.

While forward Josh Bailey recognizes the squad is making strides toward being a perennial playoff team, he also acknowledges that their performance in many games has come up short.

“We had another game like that against the Rangers as well,” Bailey said, referring to the Feb. 14 game in which the Islanders overcame a two-goal deficit to win. “I think there’s been a few examples of that. But ultimately I think the games like last night you have to find a way to win. Those are tight, playoff-type games. You’re not going to win them all, but you can’t be satisfied when you lose either.”

While Tavares and co. feel like they left points on the table after leading 1-0 in the third period of Thursday’s 2-1 overtime loss against the Rangers, Head Coach Jack Capuano was pleased by his team’s effort.

“We were relentless, we had a lot of passion and emotion on the bench last night, and that was a real positive sign,” Capuano said. “For 55 minutes we were right there. I think if anything we learned we can really play with some of the top teams in the league. A lot of people picked Pittsburgh, or the Rangers or Boston to come out of the Eastern Conference this year. We’ve played pretty well against those teams.”

With wins against Ottawa and Montreal bookended by overtime losses to Toronto and the Rangers, the Islanders are riding a four-game points streak. Bailey believes that the bar has been raised in the room. What may have passed for an acceptable performance in years past is no longer good enough.

“We’re starting to get a winning feeling in here,” Bailey said. “When you get that you want to keep it rolling. Last night was tough, but obviously we want to turn that back around Saturday. I think the biggest thing that we focus on is our game and going out and putting together a full 60 minutes and working as hard as we can.”

In three of the past four seasons, the Islanders started the season’s second half at least 10 points out of eighth place. With all 24 games ahead coming against Eastern Conference teams, Capuano stressed the added urgency for the Islanders to perform at their highest level every night.

“Our guys realize that every game is like a game seven,” Capuano said. “You’ve got to win your shift, you’ve got to do the little things. It doesn’t get any easier with the competition we play. We’ve got to continue to make sure that we’re the hardest working team every night.”

The team hopes getting back to .500 with a win in Saturday’s matinee contest against the Washington Capitals will be the first step to an exciting playoff push. The puck drops on the second half of the season at 1:00 p.m. at the Coliseum.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
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

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
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
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 36 16 2 .913 2.42
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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