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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 / 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 MTL 62 41 16 5 171 135 87
2 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
3 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
4 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 64 34 20 10 188 159 78
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 62 26 32 4 160 196 56
14 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
15 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 64 30 35 4 65
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 64 14 27 22 41
B. Nelson 64 17 19 7 36
F. Nielsen 64 11 25 12 36
A. Lee 58 20 13 13 33
J. Bailey 52 12 19 10 31
J. Boychuk 54 7 23 16 30
N. Leddy 64 8 18 15 26
T. Hamonic 54 4 21 15 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 33 13 0 .911 2.46
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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