Off The Island

Isles embark on four-game road trip

Monday, 11.4.2013 / 5:22 PM ET / News
By Cory Wright
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Off The Island
Ahead of their upcoming four-game road trip, the New York Islanders have a lot to feel good about.

Ahead of their upcoming four-game road trip, the New York Islanders have a lot to feel good about. They’ve won back-to-back games for the first time this season and did so with a strong work ethic, character and resilience. Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen are among the league’s leaders in scoring and the top line is quickly developing on-ice chemistry.

On the onset of the seven day trip to Washington, Raleigh, Columbus and Montreal, the Islanders can also feel great about their play on the road dating back to last season.

The Islanders flipped the convention that playing on the road is a disadvantage in 2012-13, skating to a 14-6-4 road record. On road trips four games or longer, the Isles went 9-3-3 and didn’t have a losing record on any of them.

Head coach Jack Capuano credits details, good habits and hard work for his teams’ success.

“Guys know our system and how we need to play. For us to execute and have success, it’s a function of playing physical, it’s how we manage the puck. It’s our discipline in all three zones and doing the right things.”

The penalty kill is one of those strong points, as the Isles have killed off 93% of their trips to the sin bin in five road games this season. Capuano said he likes what he’s seen from all four lines and he’s confident using any of his combinations against the opposition. The keys to a successful trip remain the same up and down the lineup: simplify the game, channel the negative energy in the building and play physically.

“Part of the thing about playing on the road is not being pretty about it,” Travis Hamonic said. “You have to make the simple play when you can. And I think those are fun games to play. It’s always a tough environment we’re going into, but it’s good.”

With three of the four games against the Metropolitan division, the buildings won’t be friendly to the Islanders. Especially for a physical player like Cal Clutterbuck, whose hits won’t be greeted with the same cheers as they are at Nassau Coliseum.

“There’s a different feel and a different energy,” said Clutterbuck. “You have to create your own energy, your own enthusiasm. Every boo is a cheer on the road.”

The guys here are very close. There’s no separation from the youngest to the oldest guyThomas Vanek

The Islanders embark on their trip with two straight road wins, a 6-5-3 record overall and in second place in the division. Thinking about last years’ success won’t put space between themselves and third-place Washington, but replicating Friday’s gutsy 5-4 win in Ottawa, where the Islanders overcame adversity and put everything on net, will.

“We’ve had some games at home slip away from us here, so it’s going to be important to get some points on the trip,” Clutterbuck said. “(We need to) keep it simple. We played a pretty efficient road game in Ottawa, so we are trying to emulate that as much as possible and give ourselves the best chance at coming back with as many points as possible.”

The four-game swing is the longest of the Isles season thus far, but provides the secondary benefit of giving the players extra time to bond off the ice. For a recent acquisition like Thomas Vanek, spending more time to get to know a tightly-knit room can only help.

“The guys here are very close. There’s no separation from the youngest to the oldest guy,” Vanek said. “Guys get along, they care about each other and you can see in the games, they play hard for each other.”

That doesn’t mean the Austrian star is immune to some ribbing or road trip pranks.

“You always get that,” he said. “It probably starts with Bolts (Eric Boulton) and ends with Bolts… After a few days you get to know everyone and dish it back.”

The Islanders kick off a four-game trip Tuesday night in DC against the Capitals. Puck drop is 7 p.m.

SCHEDULE

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AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
2 x - NYR 75 47 21 7 228 177 101
3 x - TBL 77 47 23 7 249 201 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 DET 75 40 23 12 220 206 92
7 WSH 76 41 25 10 223 188 92
8 BOS 76 38 25 13 201 196 89
9 OTT 75 37 26 12 218 203 86
10 FLA 76 35 26 15 190 207 85
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 76 31 33 12 168 194 74
14 CAR 75 28 36 11 174 204 67
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 77 34 43 -2 77
R. Strome 76 16 32 20 48
K. Okposo 55 16 31 -11 47
F. Nielsen 76 14 28 8 42
B. Nelson 77 19 22 7 41
A. Lee 71 23 16 10 39
J. Bailey 65 15 23 3 38
J. Boychuk 67 8 25 9 33
N. Leddy 73 10 21 14 31
T. Hamonic 67 5 26 16 31
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 36 16 2 .913 2.42
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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