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Okposo Takes Game To Next Level

Kyle Okposo is taking his game to a new level and leads the Islanders with 19 points

Wednesday, 11.6.2013 / 5:52 PM ET / News
By Cory Wright
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Okposo Takes Game To Next Level

Skating on the New York Islanders top line, 25-year-old Kyle Okposo is enjoying the hottest start of his career. The Isles top right winger leads the team in scoring with 19 points (five goals, 14 assists) and is keeping pace with the NHL’s scoring leaders.

Okposo is also the hottest Islander at the moment, scoring seven points (one goal, six assists) in his last three games. He scored multiple points in each of those games, including a three-assist effort in a 3-1 win against Boston last Saturday. At the 15-game mark, Okposo has had three, three-game point streaks. 

“Our line has been pretty good with Thomas (Vanek) on it so far,” Okposo said. “And playing with Johnny (John Tavares), you know you’re going to get opportunities. I’m just taking advantage of my opportunities.”

Okposo is making the most of playing on the top line and top power play unit, but he’s also contributing to the success of his teammates. Tavares and Isles goal-scoring leader, Frans Nielsen, have benefited from Okposo’s playmaking.

“I love how hard he works and how strong he is on the puck,” Tavares said of the Islanders assists leader. “Being with a guy that you have confidence in going to the corners and coming out with pucks, skating through the neutral zone, carrying the play and not getting knocked off the puck, it makes the game much easier.”

At 6’1, 216 lbs., Okposo has the build and power to drive to the front of the net and grind defensemen down low. What his teammates and coaches are seeing now is the confidence to impose his will in the offensive end, a confidence that stemmed from last years’ stretch drive and series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“It’s no secret he had a good finish to the year last year and he really built off it,” Tavares said. “It’s really good to see him doing what he’s doing. It makes our team so much better and more dangerous.

"I did some different training and talked to different people about my game and skill work I had been doing. It’s paying off."Kyle Okposo

Head coach Jack Capuano said Okposo’s offensive success is being driven by his play without the puck and hard work.

“He’s always been a really good player,” Capuano said. “When a player realizes how he has to play within the team concept and how he has to play as an individual, it’s going to lead to success."

He added, “Kyle’s puck protection and the way he’s playing in the offensive zone is a function of him being in constant motion and moving his feet.”

Last year’s playoffs were also an eye-opener for Okposo, who got a taste of the intensity of playoff hockey that has motivated him ever since. He’s been an everyday player since 2008-09, but Okposo changed his offseason routine this summer.

“I worked a lot this summer with different people,” Okposo said.”I did some different training and talked to different people about my game and skill work I had been doing. It’s paying off.”

He travelled to Toronto and spent a few days with Tavares, who noticed a new focus in Okposo’s approach to his off-ice training regimen.

“He’s become more of a guy that likes to learn and gets to know how things off the ice impact your game, instead of just going to the gym and doing what you’re doing,” Tavares said. “He’s really gotten to understand that a lot more from what I’ve seen. He takes a lot of pride in that and he’s not satisfied in what he’s accomplished. He expects more of himself.”

Sitting as the team’s leading scorer and playing at over a point-per-game pace, Okposo has definitely delivered for himself and the Islanders so far this season.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 8 6 5 2 11
K. Okposo 8 1 6 2 7
F. Nielsen 8 3 2 0 5
B. Nelson 8 1 4 -3 5
A. Quine 8 1 4 1 5
R. Strome 6 1 3 3 4
T. Hickey 8 1 3 -3 4
S. Prince 8 3 0 2 3
R. Pulock 4 1 2 -3 3
N. Leddy 8 0 3 2 3
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
T. Greiss 5 3 0 .937 2.06
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