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Preparing for Phoenix

After earning three points on the season's opening weekend, the Islanders get ready for three Western Conference opponents

Monday, 10.07.2013 / 3:59 PM / News
By Travis Betts
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Preparing for Phoenix
After earning three points on the season\'s opening weekend, the Islanders get ready for three Western Conference opponents
Matt Martin hits New Jersey's Adam Larsson during the Islanders 4-3 opening night win at Prudential Center (Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images).

Following a 1-0-1 this weekend, the mood around the Islanders room was optimistic at Monday’s practice, as the team prepares for three Western Conference opponents this week.

Surrendering a two-goal lead Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets obviously wasn’t in the plan for the Islanders. Forward Matt Martin says the team is viewing it both as a missed opportunity and as a better team effort than they had opening night at New Jersey.

“We're happy with three points but we're not satisfied either,” Martin said. “We're disappointed that we gave away that win against Columbus, but it's a long season. You can't dwell on those kinds of things. We have a game tomorrow night that we have to focus on and put that behind us. We have to start playing to our potential and that starts tomorrow.”

The team practiced Monday in preparation for a relatively unfamiliar opponent, the Phoenix Coyotes, who will visit the Coliseum Tuesday. The Islanders and Coyotes haven’t met since January 2012, and Phoenix’s last trip to Long Island was in December 2010.

Defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky has matched up against the Coyotes 51 times in his NHL career, but even he says he needed a refresher on Phoenix’s tactics.

“Last season, we only played against Eastern Conference teams,” Visnovsky said. “I don’t know all the changes Phoenix has made in the last couple of years. I need to look at their roster. I know their coach, Dave Tippett, because he was one of our coaches my first year in LA. He loves the offensive style. He loves the players who can skate and puckhandle. So we’ll need a good defensive effort and we’ll need to use our team speed to beat them.”

The Islanders coaching staff went over video with the players Monday to prepare the team. Most of the players haven’t seen Phoenix, Chicago (Friday’s opponent) or Nashville (Saturday’s opponent) in a couple of seasons, a long enough time for roster changes to alter the makeup of those teams.

“Meetings are probably a little longer when you play Western teams because you don’t know them very well,” said forward Frans Nielsen. “But I think we’re good enough to be able to go out and play our game and not worry too much about who we’re playing against. We have a good enough team that we should be able to beat any team if we play our best.”

Martin agreed, saying that the focus Tuesday will be on playing Islanders hockey, as opposed to trying to counterpunch what the Coyotes throw at them. The fifth-year forward said that’s what the team did against the Blue Jackets, and it showed early on, as they surrendered only four shots through the first period.

“We play our best when we're not taking many chances and we're trying to outwork the other team in their zone,” Martin said. “When we start taking risks like we did in Jersey, we have a lot of turnovers. Nabby really held us in there in that game. We were better against Columbus and we know that. We just have to come in against Phoenix, get pucks deep and play simple. It might look like a feeling-out process, but we're not giving them many chances and that's where we want to be.”

Monday also marked the first full practice for forward Cal Clutterbuck since he went on Injured Reserve with a leg laceration on Sept. 17. Head coach Jack Capuano said Clutterbuck could be available as soon as tomorrow.

“Today was his first real practice with us, even though he skated with the team the other day,” Capuano said. “I want to see how his conditioning is. He could be ready tomorrow, but maybe an extra couple of days will help him too.”

Puck drop Tuesday is set for 7:00 p.m. from Nassau Coliseum. To get the special social media ticket discount for that game, as well as many other first-half matchups, click here.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 PIT 30 20 6 4 98 71 44
2 TBL 33 20 10 3 110 87 43
3 NYI 31 21 10 0 99 89 42
4 MTL 32 20 10 2 87 80 42
5 DET 32 17 7 8 92 80 42
6 TOR 31 19 9 3 109 87 41
7 BOS 32 16 13 3 81 83 35
8 NYR 29 15 10 4 89 79 34
9 FLA 29 13 8 8 66 75 34
10 WSH 30 14 10 6 86 81 34
11 OTT 31 13 12 6 82 86 32
12 CBJ 30 13 15 2 72 95 28
13 BUF 32 13 17 2 62 100 28
14 NJD 33 11 16 6 74 96 28
15 PHI 30 11 14 5 80 90 27
16 CAR 30 8 19 3 62 87 19

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 31 12 15 -5 27
K. Okposo 31 7 20 -3 27
B. Nelson 31 13 11 4 24
R. Strome 31 6 15 10 21
F. Nielsen 31 6 11 0 17
N. Leddy 31 5 10 7 15
J. Boychuk 21 2 12 7 14
M. Grabovski 28 5 7 4 12
N. Kulemin 31 5 7 -3 12
T. Hickey 30 2 9 1 11
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 16 6 0 .917 2.35
C. Johnson 5 4 0 .868 3.59

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