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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

Friday, 03.8.2013 / 4:52 PM ET / News
By Travis Betts
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Islanders Ready To Push Through Second Half
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 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 55 32 17 6 153 127 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 BOS 55 30 19 6 163 150 66
5 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
6 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
7 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
8 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
9 NJD 56 28 21 7 124 124 63
10 PHI 54 24 20 10 128 140 58
11 CAR 55 24 21 10 131 143 58
12 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 BUF 56 22 28 6 131 155 50
15 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 50 20 23 -2 43
K. Okposo 51 15 28 -9 43
F. Nielsen 53 15 19 -1 34
B. Nelson 53 20 11 -1 31
M. Grabovski 53 9 16 3 25
A. Lee 53 9 15 0 24
J. Bailey 52 9 15 4 24
N. Leddy 53 3 21 -7 24
R. Strome 42 6 15 -4 21
C. Cizikas 53 5 12 5 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 13 11 4 .918 2.27
T. Greiss 15 6 2 .929 2.24
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