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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 52 39 9 4 171 117 82
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 53 30 18 5 150 135 65
4 NYI 52 28 18 6 145 129 62
5 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
6 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
7 BOS 53 28 19 6 153 146 62
8 PIT 52 27 18 7 138 132 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
12 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
13 PHI 52 23 20 9 122 137 55
14 BUF 54 21 27 6 124 146 48
15 CBJ 55 21 28 6 137 170 48
16 TOR 52 19 24 9 120 144 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
K. Okposo 50 15 27 -9 42
J. Tavares 49 19 22 -3 41
F. Nielsen 52 15 19 -1 34
B. Nelson 52 20 11 0 31
M. Grabovski 52 9 15 2 24
J. Bailey 51 9 15 5 24
A. Lee 52 8 15 1 23
N. Leddy 52 3 20 -8 23
R. Strome 41 6 14 -5 20
C. Clutterbuck 51 11 4 6 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 13 11 4 .918 2.27
T. Greiss 14 6 2 .929 2.26
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