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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 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 53 31 16 6 143 118 68
3 NYR 53 30 18 5 150 135 65
4 TBL 52 29 19 4 138 123 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
7 PIT 52 27 18 7 138 132 61
8 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
9 NJD 54 26 21 7 120 122 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
13 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
K. Okposo 49 15 26 -7 41
J. Tavares 48 19 21 -4 40
F. Nielsen 51 15 18 0 33
B. Nelson 51 20 11 1 31
M. Grabovski 51 9 15 2 24
J. Bailey 50 9 15 5 24
N. Leddy 51 3 20 -8 23
A. Lee 51 7 15 1 22
R. Strome 40 5 14 -6 19
C. Clutterbuck 50 11 4 6 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 12 11 4 .917 2.28
T. Greiss 14 6 2 .929 2.26
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