Following Saturday night’s 6-0 loss to the Boston Bruins, Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano was the most fired up he's been in a postgame press conference. He wouldn’t call out any one specific player, but instead talked about the potential the Islanders posses as a team.
“If you’re a pro athlete and you’ve got the desire and the attitude to be a champion, you have to find that within,” Capuano said. “You have to have the will to compete at the highest level every night when you go into battle. We saw it last year. I saw it. I saw the energy and the desperation in our game last year.”
Referring to the post-All-Star Break run that saw the Islanders go on a tear to earn a 15-12-6 record and lead the league in points, Capuano said he saw their will to win with his own eyes and doesn’t understand what changed from last season to now.
|Rick DiPietro and Mark Streit defend the net against Chris Kelly at Nassau Coliseum on November 19, 2011. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) |
“When you play this game, you need to play with fire,” Capuano said. “You need to have passion. You need play with determination. You need to play with desperation... When you lace up your skates, the guy across from you, the guy on the left and the right of you, they need to know that you’ve got their back and you’re going to play for one another. That just didn’t happen tonight.”
With just 2 shots on net in the first period and 23 on the night, the Islanders played the majority of the game in their defensive zone. Goaltender Rick DiPietro
would give up three goals in the first period on 13 shots and rookie netminder Anders Nilsson
would make his NHL debut, letting up three more goals in the final 20 minutes of play to record the final margin.
But Capuano wouldn’t put blame on the goaltenders. He was disappointed with the full team effort.
“We didn’t win a battle tonight,” Capuano said. “We didn’t win a 50/50 puck battle. They came out with the puck every time it was on their stick. Granted, (Boston is) a great team, they’re big, they’re physical, but you have to match that if you want to have success.”Nilsson makes NHL debut
Nilsson was recalled to Long Island early Saturday morning after the team announced late Friday night that Al Montoya
was suffering from a strained hamstring, leaving a three-goaltender system to just one healthy netminder in less than eight hours.
The news of Montoya’s injury came just eight hours after it was announced goaltender Evgeni Nabokov
would be out indefinitely with a groin injury. Nabokov was placed on injured reserve on Saturday morning, retroactive to Nov. 17, and Nilsson was called up.
Going through six goaltenders last season and giving 12 rookies experience in the NHL, five of whom played in 20 games or more, Capuano told the media during his morning press briefing prior to Saturday night’s matchup that “We’ve always been an organization of opportunity.”
Nilsson made 14 saves and let in three goals in 40 minutes of play.
“It’s tough to be happy right now,” Nilsson said of his NHL debut. “I let in three goals in two periods. That’s not good, but of course it was fun to get the chance to play in the NHL. It’s been a dream since I started playing hockey, since I was a young guy. So it’s a dream come true to be able to get the chance to play in the NHL. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out good. It’s hard to be excited afterwards.”