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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 ET / News
By Travis Betts
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Litmus Test
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 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
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 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
7 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
8 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
9 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
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
K. Okposo 49 15 26 -7 41
J. Tavares 48 19 21 -4 40
F. Nielsen 51 15 18 0 33
B. Nelson 51 20 11 1 31
M. Grabovski 51 9 15 2 24
J. Bailey 50 9 15 5 24
N. Leddy 51 3 20 -8 23
A. Lee 51 7 15 1 22
R. Strome 40 5 14 -6 19
C. Clutterbuck 50 11 4 6 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 12 11 4 .917 2.28
T. Greiss 14 6 2 .929 2.26
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