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Isles' Martin energized by Rangers' success

New York Islanders forward Matt Martin admits the playoff success of the archrival New York Rangers has lit a fire under him.

Sunday, 06.29.2014 / 11:33 AM / News
By Brian Compton
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Isles\' Martin energized by Rangers\' success
New York Islanders forward Matt Martin admits the playoff success of the archrival New York Rangers has lit a fire under him.

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders were supposed spend last season building off their run to the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when they gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a scare in the opening round in an exciting six-game series.

Instead, the Islanders took a step back; they went 34-37 11 and finished fifth from the bottom of the NHL standings. To make matters even more painful, the Islanders were forced to sit and watch their archrivals, the New York Rangers, go all the way to the Stanley Cup Final before losing to the Los Angeles Kings in five games.

Islanders left wing Matt Martin admitted the Rangers' run lit a fire under him. He wishes training camp started tomorrow.

"It's always hard to watch the playoffs. It's a little harder when you see them go as far as they did," Martin said Friday night during the Islanders' draft party at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. "They earned it though. They played hard, they played like a team and ran into a powerful L.A. team. [It was] definitely hard to watch for a very long time, but I'm looking forward to getting back at it."

The Islanders were competitive last season but struggled mightily to hold on to leads. They lost 13 games that at some point they were ahead by two goals. Martin knows that has to change if they are going to return to the postseason next spring.


"It's very frustrating; that's what we did in years prior to two seasons ago when we made the playoffs," said Martin, who had eight goals, six assists and 90 penalty minutes in 79 games. "We've got to find ways to hold on those leads. Obviously we had some injuries, but that's not an excuse either. We've got to find ways to just hang on to leads.

You can see that the management is trying to move this in the right direction and go far and the players need to follow suit. Matt Martin

"The problem is we were in position to win games. It's not like we were getting blown out. We've just got to hang on and find ways to win. We know we have the talent in here and the pieces in place to go the distance and get in the playoffs again. Once you get to the dance, anything can happen. We know we're talented enough, we've been there before, we've just got to be more consistent and do what it takes to win."

General manager Garth Snow wasted no time this offseason acquiring a No. 1 goaltender. He landed the rights to Jaroslav Halak from the Washington Capitals on May 1, then signed him to a four-year, $18 million contract three weeks later. Halak went 29-13-7 with a 2.25 goals-against average and .921 save percentage between the St. Louis Blues and Washington. He replaces 38-year-old Evgeni Nabokov, who was limited to 40 games due to injury and becomes an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday.

"I think that's a big help," Martin said. "When Nabby went down, Pouls [Kevin Poulin] and Anders [Nilsson] played good hockey but it was definitely tough. They're young guys that may not be in those positions very often yet in their career. We just need some more stability I think in net, and we got that with Halak.

"I think last year was …. I don't want to say a wakeup call, but nothing's going to be handed to us. I think goaltending was something Garth wanted to address and he took care of that right away. It looks like he wants a puck-moving defenseman or a veteran defenseman and he tried to address that. Free agency is just a week away, so they're doing what they can to make us better. But as players it's up to us to produce on the ice."

The 2014-15 season will be the Islanders' last at the 42-year-old Coliseum before they move into the state-of-the-art Barclays Center in Brooklyn in the fall of 2015. The Islanders won four straight Stanley Cups from 1980-83 and made the Final in 1984, but they haven't reached the second round of the playoffs since 1993.

"It's been a long, long time since this arena's seen a championship and really just a deep playoff run in general," Martin said. "I think the fans deserve it, I think the players deserve it, I think even you guys [the media] deserve it. It's been a long time. You can see that the management is trying to move this in the right direction and go far and the players need to follow suit. We have a few months here before training camp opens and we have to get ourselves ready to have a great season."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

Author: Brian Compton | NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 NYI 47 32 14 1 155 130 65
2 DET 48 28 11 9 144 123 65
3 TBL 49 30 15 4 158 131 64
4 MTL 46 30 13 3 126 108 63
5 PIT 47 27 12 8 143 120 62
6 NYR 45 27 14 4 135 110 58
7 WSH 47 24 14 9 140 124 57
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 45 20 15 10 111 127 50
10 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
11 TOR 48 22 23 3 142 150 47
12 PHI 49 20 22 7 134 149 47
13 CBJ 46 21 22 3 117 145 45
14 NJD 47 17 22 8 107 134 42
15 CAR 47 17 25 5 102 122 39
16 BUF 48 14 31 3 90 171 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 47 22 24 -1 46
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 47 9 25 17 34
B. Nelson 47 15 15 6 30
F. Nielsen 47 9 17 5 26
J. Boychuk 37 4 20 17 24
J. Bailey 35 8 14 9 22
N. Leddy 47 7 14 15 21
N. Kulemin 47 11 9 1 20
A. Lee 41 13 5 8 18
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 26 9 0 .913 2.37
C. Johnson 6 5 0 .870 3.38

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