Gearing Up For Florida

After earning a point Saturday against the rival Rangers, the Islanders must maintain a playoff-like intensity in Tuesday's home finale

Monday, 04.15.2013 / 4:02 PM ET / News
By Greg Picker
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Gearing Up For Florida
After earning a point Saturday against the rival Rangers, the Islanders must maintain a playoff-like intensity in Tuesday\'s home finale
Evgeni Nabokov stopped all 26 shots faced, including three from Marcel Goc, the last time the Islanders and Panthers met (Photo: Getty Images).

Coming off the most highly-anticipated game of the season, a playoff-like thriller against the cross-town-rival New York Rangers, the New York Islanders find themselves tasked with maintaining their energy level and focus Tuesday against the Florida Panthers.

Thirteen-hundred miles and 15 standings points separate the Islanders from Tuesday’s opponent, but the two points at stake in the Islanders’ final home game are just as critical to the playoff picture as those awarded Saturday.

“It’s such a big game and every point is crucial,” Streit said Monday. “We need a win and they’re a hard-working team. We have to be ready and we’ve got to play 100%. We have to bring exactly the same intensity as we have in every game recently.”

It’s easy for players to get excited for a rivalry game, especially with so much on the line late in the regular season. This season the Islanders have proven themselves capable of avoiding a post-Rangers let down, going 2-1-0 in the matchups immediately following Rangers games. In their only post-Rangers loss this season, the Isles outshot Buffalo 43-15 in a 3-2 defeat on February 9.

“I think we’ve set a standard and I think we hold ourselves accountable inside this dressing room more than anything else,” Hamonic said, coming off a performance in which he stymied Rangers’ leading scorer Rick Nash. “Good teams have that standard, that work ethic, and that game plan, game-in and game-out and that’s the most important thing.”

The game plan has translated most notably on defense during the team’s playoff push. The Islanders are 8-1-2 in the last 11 games and have allowed just 15 regulation goals in that stretch (1.36 goals per game). They’ve allowed just one goal in each of their last three games and conceded two or fewer in eight consecutive contests.

With six games remaining in the regular season, Head Coach Jack Capuano believes it’s less about the X’s and O’s and more about the determination level that the team brings to the rink every night.

“At this time of the year, the teams that work the hardest win hockey games,” Capuano said. “It’s not structure and it’s not systems. Goaltending and special teams are a big part of it, but it’s how you play and how you battle.”

Perhaps bolstering the team’s battle level, two of the last three home games have been sell outs. With Tuesday night marking the final home game of the regular season, leading scorer John Tavares knows how much the team can count on the fans for an extra boost.

“You could see the last few nights the energy, the intensity level and the passion they have and the way we’ve fed off that,” Tavares said. “It’s our final home game. We have to take advantage of that and we want to finish the year at home on a good note, sending a good message to our fans.”

The playoff push continues Tuesday night in what will be another raucous environment at the “Old Barn on Hempstead Turnpike.” Hopefully for the Islanders and their fans, it will only be a short two-week hiatus until the next home game.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Bailey 2 1 2 1 3
R. Strome 2 2 0 1 2
B. Nelson 2 2 0 2 2
K. Okposo 2 1 1 1 2
J. Tavares 2 0 2 1 2
C. Clutterbuck 2 1 0 1 1
C. de Haan 2 0 1 0 1
M. Martin 2 0 1 0 1
L. Visnovsky 2 0 1 3 1
F. Nielsen 2 0 1 0 1
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 1 1 0 .917 2.52

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