Reclaiming the style

For the Islanders to bounce back in Game 2, they need to get back to the things that made them successful in their run to the postseason

Thursday, 05.2.2013 / 4:29 PM ET / News
By Greg Picker
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Reclaiming the style
For the Islanders to bounce back in Game 2, they need to get back to the things that made them successful in their run to the postseason
Puck possession will be a key for the remainder of the series. Keith Aucoin won 6-of-7 faceoffs (86%) in Game 1 (Photo: Getty Images).

Although Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the Islanders and Penguins didn’t go the way the Islanders had anticipated, Jack Capuano’s squad knows what it takes to bounce back from a disappointing start to the postseason.

While the execution wasn’t there in the series opener, Capuano has seen his club bounce back in the past.

“We have faced adversity throughout the year,” Capuano said after Thursday’s practice at CONSOL Energy Center. “While we’ve had hiccups along the way, this team has always responded. One thing about our club is that we’ve found a way to get back on track.”

Some may have counted the Islanders out after the team’s five-game losing streak in February. Capuano wouldn’t let that happen and instilled a style of play that took the team to the playoffs.

Now, back in the postseason for the first time in six years, the Islanders must reclaim that style.

“It’s when every line gets pucks in and we get lots of cycling, just working the puck beneath the goal line and beneath the tops of the circles,” forward Colin McDonald said. “We just had a hard time getting to our game Wednesday for whatever reason. I don’t know what the explanation could be, but we didn’t do it last night.”

Despite the loss, McDonald and the Islanders understand that it was only one game of a best-of-seven series. There’s still plenty of time left to change the momentum and that turnaround could begin Friday night in Game 2.

“That’s in the past. It’s cliché but it really is just one game, McDonald said. “There are six games left for a chance to win four.

Islanders forward Josh Bailey, whose line with Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen was a catalyst to the Islanders surge up the Eastern Conference standings through March and April, agreed with McDonald.

“I think when we play our best we’re a strong forechecking team,” Bailey said. “We get pucks in; we pound the other team’s D and use our speed to our advantage. All the little things are what I think has gotten us to this point. We have to bring a lot more of that tomorrow night.“

One of the ‘little things’ that helps win games is sacrificing the body to block shots. Pittsburgh blocked 22 of the Isles’ shots in Game 1 compared to just 12 blocks by the Islanders. During a stretch late in the season in which the Islanders went 11-1-2, the Isles blocked more shots than their opponent in eight of the 11 wins.

In addition to sustaining a cycle on the forecheck and blocking shots, bringing a physical element to the game throughout the entire 60 minutes will be vital to the team’s success. Although the Isles out-hit the Penguins 41-36 in Game 1, nearly half of those hits were accumulated by just two players in Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas.

The Islanders’ leading scorer throughout the regular season, John Tavares, knows that everyone in the lineup needs to bring the physical dynamic to the rest of the series.

“A lot of sacrifices are made [to win]. It’s going to hurt a little bit,” Tavares said. “I try to be physical myself. I tried to finish some hits. It’s a part of the playoffs.”

Islanders Captain Mark Streit has the same mindset as Tavares when it comes to bringing a physical style of play in the postseason.

“It’s the playoffs,” Streit said. “You have to play physical and finish your checks. That’s a key and we certainly have to be more physical than we were last night.”

The captain also knows the Isles can’t dwell on defeat. A chance to even the series and turn home ice advantage back to New York is just around the corner.

“That’s behind us,” Streit said. “We lost. They played a strong game and now it’s time to move forward and really concentrate on the next game.”

The Islanders are ready to bring that style of play that made them so successful in the second half of the regular season into Game 2. As long as they do, there’s no reason this series shouldn’t be tied headed back on Long Island for Sunday’s Game 3.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 73 47 19 7 224 168 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 75 46 22 7 244 194 99
4 NYI 75 44 26 5 228 208 93
5 PIT 74 40 23 11 204 186 91
6 DET 73 39 22 12 212 201 90
7 WSH 74 40 24 10 215 182 90
8 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
9 BOS 74 36 25 13 195 193 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 CBJ 74 35 35 4 203 230 74
13 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 75 34 40 -1 74
R. Strome 74 15 31 19 46
K. Okposo 53 15 31 -10 46
F. Nielsen 74 13 28 9 41
B. Nelson 75 18 22 9 40
A. Lee 69 23 16 14 39
J. Bailey 63 15 23 6 38
J. Boychuk 65 8 25 10 33
T. Hamonic 65 5 25 16 30
N. Leddy 71 10 19 16 29
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 35 16 2 .915 2.39
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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