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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 50 37 9 4 163 112 78
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
7 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
8 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
9 NYI 50 26 18 6 135 126 58
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 50 23 18 9 119 130 55
12 MTL 53 25 24 4 142 142 54
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 47 18 19 -6 37
K. Okposo 48 12 25 -9 37
B. Nelson 50 20 11 0 31
F. Nielsen 50 15 16 -2 31
M. Grabovski 50 9 15 1 24
J. Bailey 49 8 15 4 23
A. Lee 50 7 14 0 21
N. Leddy 50 3 17 -12 20
R. Strome 39 5 13 -8 18
N. Kulemin 50 5 9 6 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 12 11 4 .917 2.28
T. Greiss 13 6 2 .927 2.32
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