A New Approach

The Islanders returned to practice Wednesday with a fresh attitude for the upcoming weekend's games

Wednesday, 10.30.2013 / 4:36 PM ET / News
By Travis Betts
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A New Approach
The Islanders returned to practice Wednesday with a fresh attitude for the upcoming weekend\'s games
Thomas Vanek skated alongside John Tavares and Kyle Okposo during his Islanders debut Tuesday (Photo: Getty Images).

Following a tough loss Tuesday to the rival Rangers, the New York Islanders attacked Wednesday’s practice with a loosened approach.

The team took part in special teams drills and a couple of quirky games that lightened the mood for the players and coaches.

“We talked about it today – new attitude, new challenge,” head coach Jack Capuano said. “We’ve got to stay positive. Special teams were a huge factor in last night’s game. But at the same time, we had some things we needed to work on today to move forward.”

Most goals during Wednesday’s practice were celebrated. Defenseman Travis Hamonic believes the atmosphere and positive attitude should help to clear the slate for the Islanders, who face Ottawa on the road Friday and Boston at home Saturday.

"Sometimes you just have to change things up a little bit and have some fun with it,” Hamonic said. “Coming to the rink and trying to put yesterday behind us and looking forward to the next game in a positive manner is a lot better than coming and being down. That's not going to do us any good. Last night’s game is over. It’s time to move forward and I think that's what we did in practice.”

The Islanders power play ranked first in the NHL at 27.8-percent, but was unable to convert Tuesday against the Rangers on three opportunities. Similarly, the penalty kill, which was ranked sixth in the league, was victimized twice on four chances. Hamonic says that with the Islanders’ continued emphasis on special teams play, the power play and penalty kill will be back on point soon.

“I don't think there's been a team that's killed every penalty in a season or a team that's scored on every power play,” Hamonic said. “Special teams have been a strength and hopefully we get back to where we feel they should be. We have the personnel in here to be the top of the league in both categories. We hit the reset button a little bit today and got back at it."
 

Vanek adjusting

Captain John Tavares, who is centering the top line with right wing Kyle Okposo and newcomer Thomas Vanek, said the top trio needs to improve in the chemistry department. Vanek played with Tavares and Okposo at even strength and on the top power play unit, something Tavares said will get better with each practice.

“I think we’ve just got to try to go play,” Tavares said. “At times we tried to be a little too cute or we should have simplified things. When we did that we started to get more pucks to the net. We’ll get used to each other and play on our instincts with confidence and feed off each other. When you’re not trying to do too much, it leads to good success, especially with the talent we have in here. There’s a lot of room to grow.”

Capuano added that once the Tavares-Vanek-Okposo line adjusts to their new dynamic with reps in practice and games, they should be more effective in the long run.

“They might have been trying to look for him a little too much,” Capuano said. “It’s going to be a process. But we’ve got to get back to basics. [Vanek] is a character guy who really fits in the room well. In his first game, obviously there was a lot of emotion. But I thought he had some good chances. He’ll continue to play with Johnny on that power play and 5-on-5 and I’m sure they’re going to get going here.”

The Islanders will practice again Thursday before flying to Ottawa for their first matchup of the season against the Senators on Friday, Nov. 1.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 74 47 20 7 226 172 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 75 41 23 11 207 188 93
5 NYI 76 44 27 5 230 211 93
6 DET 74 40 22 12 216 201 92
7 WSH 75 40 25 10 218 186 90
8 BOS 75 37 25 13 199 195 87
9 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
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 76 34 40 -3 74
R. Strome 75 15 32 19 47
K. Okposo 54 15 31 -10 46
F. Nielsen 75 13 28 9 41
B. Nelson 76 18 22 9 40
A. Lee 70 23 16 12 39
J. Bailey 64 15 23 4 38
J. Boychuk 66 8 25 9 33
T. Hamonic 66 5 25 16 30
N. Leddy 72 10 19 15 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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