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Litmus Test

The Islanders put their 7-1-1 run on the line on the road against a tough Boston team

Wednesday, 04.10.2013 / 4:56 PM / News
By Travis Betts
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Litmus Test
The Islanders put their 7-1-1 run on the line on the road against a tough Boston team
The Islanders are expecting another tough, physical matchup Thursday at TD Garden against the Bruins (Photo: Getty Images)

With eight games remaining in the regular season, the Islanders currently find themselves in the playoff picture as the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. Four points separate sixth place from 10th place in the East, making every game crucial as the standings shuffle on a nightly basis.

Thursday’s contest against Boston is the kind of test the Islanders have been looking forward to. The 25-9-4 Bruins are one of two teams on the schedule that the Islanders have not yet beaten. Boston won the first two games of the three-game season series, 4-2 at TD Garden on Jan. 25 and 4-1 on Long Island on Feb. 26.

More than a month removed from their last game against the Bruins, the Islanders have been playing their best hockey in recent weeks. They are in the midst of a 7-1-1 run, including a four-game winning streak at home. The game against the Bruins could serve as a litmus test for how the Islanders might fair against some of the league’s top teams.

“We know they’re a good team,” Moulson said. “If you want to make the playoffs and go deep in the postseason, you‘ve got to beat good teams. We know that. This will be a good challenge for us.”

Islanders captain Mark Streit knows that the current Islanders team, while made up of much of the same personnel as it was on the season’s first day, has evolved over the course of the shortened season into a different group.

“We’ve come a long way,” Streit said. “We went through a process. We’re playing better hockey. We’re more confident. I think all the lines can score goals. Defensively, we’re playing tight. We’ve just got to keep doing the things we’ve done lately.”

Of the eight games remaining on the schedule, six will be on the road, where the Islanders are 11-5-2 this season. Thursday’s game is the last road contest not a part of the marathon five-game, eight-day trip that concludes the regular season. While playing away from home is inherently tougher than on home ice, Moulson believes the team has enough momentum that they can overcome the hostile atmosphere of TD Garden.

“I think we have played well here this previous bunch of games,” Moulson said. “It’s going to be an intense battle. Obviously we’re making a push here and every two points are important. I feel like we’ve been playing a smart, hard game, and it’s going to be no different against these guys. They’re obviously a very good team. We’ll have to bring our best.”

Even though Boston has all but locked up a postseason berth with a 12-point buffer on ninth place Winnipeg, the Bruins are one point back of Northeast Division leader and current No. 2 seed Montreal, with one game in hand.

Oddly enough, while the Islanders are already in Beantown preparing for the game, the Bruins are in the NY/NJ metro area for Wednesday night’s matchup with the New Jersey Devils, a team just on the outside of the playoff bubble. The Islanders will catch their opponent on the second half of a back-to-back set, but that doesn’t mean the test will be any easier.

“You know what’s to be expected of them,” Streit said of Boston. “I think we’ve got to keep playing the same way we have and raise up to the challenge. We know they’re a good team, but we’re a good team too. There’s eight more games to go. The standings are really tight. Every game is going to be crucial. At the same time, all our focus and concentration is on tomorrow night’s game. Nothing else matters right now.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 62 41 16 5 171 135 87
2 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
3 NYR 61 38 17 6 192 152 82
4 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 64 34 20 10 188 159 78
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 62 26 32 4 160 196 56
14 CAR 61 24 30 7 142 162 55
15 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 64 30 35 4 65
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 64 14 27 22 41
B. Nelson 64 17 19 7 36
F. Nielsen 64 11 25 12 36
A. Lee 58 20 13 13 33
J. Bailey 52 12 19 10 31
J. Boychuk 54 7 23 16 30
N. Leddy 64 8 18 15 26
T. Hamonic 54 4 21 15 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 33 13 0 .911 2.46
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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