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 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 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 75 47 21 7 228 177 101
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 DET 75 40 23 12 220 206 92
7 WSH 76 41 25 10 223 188 92
8 BOS 76 38 25 13 201 196 89
9 OTT 75 37 26 12 218 203 86
10 FLA 76 35 26 15 190 207 85
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 76 31 33 12 168 194 74
14 CAR 75 28 36 11 174 204 67
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48

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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