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Islanders need more from other lines

Wednesday, 10.19.2011 / 7:01 PM / NHL Insider

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Islanders need more from other lines
The New York Islanders have gotten big-time production from their top line, but coach Jack  Capuano knows the rest of the team has to step up for his club to succeed.
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders are off to a 3-1-0 start, but they know they need more of an all-hands-on-deck approach if they're going to enjoy continued success.

New York was victorious three times during its season-opening, four-game homestand mainly due to the heroics of center John Tavares (5 goals, 3 assists) and goaltender Al Montoya (2-1-0, 1.35 goals-against average, .953 save percentage).

But with the Islanders heading south for a pair of games in the Sunshine State, coach Jack Capuano would like to see more from his second and third lines. Frans Nielsen, Michael Grabner and Kyle Okposo have combined for a pair of goals and an assist, while the trio of Josh Bailey, Brian Rolston and Blake Comeau has yet to score. Rolston is the lone player from the Isles' third line with a point and Comeau was a healthy scratch for last Saturday's 4-2 win against the Rangers.

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The Islanders will face the Tampa Bay Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum on Thursday night before facing the Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center on Saturday.

"There's no question our secondary scoring, we're going to need it," Capuano said Wednesday morning at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. "It's obviously something that we need. I'm not going to blow the lines up right now or start to dismantle anything. If they were getting chances, it'd be one thing. But right now, they're not getting too many chances in the games that we've played. We will keep them together and hopefully, it will come for those guys."

Kyle Okposo, who missed the first half of the 2010-11 season due to a shoulder injury suffered in training camp, has been held without a goal thus far. While Okposo gushed about the work of Tavares and his linemates -- Matt Moulson and PA Parenteau -- he realizes more is expected of him offensively.

"I think that those guys have really carried us -- especially the last two games," Okposo told NHL.com. "They've been terrific. We've just got to pick it up a little bit and just bury our chances. We're getting a few chances, but I think we can create a little bit more.

"We've been working really hard. Sometimes it's just not there. It happens early in a season, but we want to fix it sooner rather than later. "I expect a lot out of myself. I'm gripping it a little bit tight, but nothing too crazy. We've just got to do the things that make us successful."

Rolston, 38, is still aiming to find that chemistry with Bailey and Comeau. Rolston attributed some of his line's lack of success to the fact that he missed basically all of training camp due to a groin injury.

"Five-on-five goals are tough to come by," Rolston told NHL.com. "Johnny's getting power-play goals and things like that and their line has been good and we're going to need them to be good. The other two lines will produce, but it might take a little time to get some chemistry. I didn't really have time to play with my linemates in training camp, so it's a bit of a process. We're winning hockey games, and that's important when we're not getting as much production from the second and third lines."

For those expecting Capuano to start shaking up his lines, the Isles' coach told reporters Wednesday that he doesn't anticipate doing much anytime soon. He is confident that each of his lines can chip in offensively.

"They've been successful before. They know what they need to do," Capuano said. "Sometimes it takes a little bit of time, just like it did with Johnny's line. I'm not pressing with those guys at all. They know what they have to do. I know they're going to come around. It's just a matter of time before those guys break out and we'll get that secondary scoring that we need.

"They're a group that's very creative. "They've got great hockey sense, they've got great vision. I just think that after a matter of playing five or six games under their belt, I think it's going to come. But they've got to shoot the puck a little bit more and get to the net, for sure."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
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