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Back to the Grind

Islanders practiced Monday in preparation for a four-game home stand

Monday, 10.14.2013 / 1:45 PM ET / News
By Travis Betts
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Back to the Grind
Defenseman Matt Carkner made his season debut Saturday at Nashville (Photo: Getty Images)

Following their first consecutive road losses in more than a year-and-a-half, the Islanders practiced Monday morning at Nassau Coliseum in preparation for Tuesday’s home tilt against the Buffalo Sabres.

After the Islanders registered just 19 and 16 shots, respectively, at Chicago and at Nashville over the weekend, head coach Jack Capuano made getting the puck on net a focal point going forward.

“We showed really good video this morning on how we have to play,” Capuano said. “They saw how we played last year throughout that video too. I think they know exactly the framework and structure that we need to be successful. It can translate and we can execute that tomorrow night against Buffalo.”

The upcoming four-game, eight-day home stand also includes a visit from the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday, the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday and the Vancouver Canucks next Tuesday. But Capuano says in order to right the ship, the team can’t look too far ahead.

“We just want to make sure that we focus on one period at a time and not look at the home stand as a week-and-a-half,” Capuano said. “It’s a singular focus; one shift at a time. Win your shift and do your job. Your work ethic will dictate the scoreboard.”

Reflecting on the losses to the Blackhawks and Predators, forward Kyle Okposo pointed out a few areas for improvement.

“I think we're playing too much in our own zone,” Okposo said. “We're not going to establish our offensive game and we're not going to get shots. But we have to be better in the offensive zone also. We have to be quicker and more physical. We have to move the puck a little bit better and shoot pucks.”

Capuano changed the line combinations midway through Saturday’s game in Nashville, and continued to experiment during Monday’s practice. Michael Grabner skated on the left wing with John Tavares and Okposo, while his right wing spot on the second line was filled by a combination of Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Brock Nelson. Matt Moulson played alongside Peter Regin and Cal Clutterbuck.

Free agent defenseman Radek Martinek also signed a waiver to practice with the club, and participated in drills Monday. Capuano said that all the tweaking of forward and defense combinations was purely experimental. He didn’t commit to whether any of the changes would carry over to Tuesday’s game.

Buffalo will play Monday night at home, meaning their trip to the Coliseum will mark the second half of a back-to-back. The struggling Sabres are 0-5-1, but forward Frans Nielsen says the key to an Islanders victory will lie in outworking the visitors.

“It's tough to win in this league and when you don't work hard, you're not going to get results,” Nielsen said. “We have to get back to doing that. We have as good of a team as anyone in this league. We just have to figure it out and play our game. We weren't good last year at home. It's something we definitely want to improve on and it's going to be a big week in front of us.”

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 53 40 9 4 171 117 84
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
5 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
6 BOS 54 29 19 6 153 146 64
7 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
8 PIT 53 27 19 7 138 135 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
12 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
15 BUF 55 21 28 6 125 151 48
16 TOR 52 19 24 9 120 144 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 50 20 23 -2 43
K. Okposo 51 15 28 -9 43
F. Nielsen 53 15 19 -1 34
B. Nelson 53 20 11 -1 31
M. Grabovski 53 9 16 3 25
A. Lee 53 9 15 0 24
J. Bailey 52 9 15 4 24
N. Leddy 53 3 21 -7 24
R. Strome 42 6 15 -4 21
C. Cizikas 53 5 12 5 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 13 11 4 .918 2.27
T. Greiss 15 6 2 .929 2.24
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