“I came here to training camp the best I’ve felt in the last five years. I lost 10 pounds, I gained a lot of speed, my shot is a lot better, so all of that, I was excited to go at the start of the season and I’ve kind of been waiting almost a month here, so I’m really excited about (getting to play tonight).”
* * *
After a disappointing loss to the Montreal Canadiens, the Islanders have a chance to absolve themselves Friday evening as they will conclude a back-to-back home-and-home series against the Habs. This time, the tides have turned as the Islanders will have home-ice advantage on the same day that Tim Horton’s makes its debut at the Nassau Coliseum.
With Wednesday’s loss, the Islanders have slid to sixth overall in the Eastern Conference standings, while the win thrusted the Canadiens into the top spot (although only three points in the final standings separate the two clubs). It’s still early in the season, so there is still plenty of time to make up the lost points, but that’s not enough for the Islanders young club.
“We want to redeem ourselves,” said Islanders forward Josh Bailey
. “I think we all know we didn’t play near as well as we could have and didn’t play our game. I think we had a good meeting (Thursday) morning and talked about some things. I think we are going to correct it and come back and get a big win (Friday) night.”
As a result, Islanders head coach Scott Gordon explained to the media that he wasn’t happy with the amount of turnovers (12) the Islanders created (for a total of 20 scoring chances against) and said he wasn’t happy with some of the players’ decisions.
In their meeting, the coaching staff tried to show the team all of the different situations where they have created turnovers in the past. Asking them, “where can we be better?” But that isn’t always the answer and Gordon admitted that the team has been struggling to beat the odds.
“I think sometimes there just isn’t a play to be made," Gordon said. "If you keep trying to make that play, and hope that with odds of it being 50-50, that it’s going to work towards our advantage. We need better odds in the risk-reward department, so that we’re not always having to defend our mistakes at our net.”
Islanders forward Zenon Konopka chopped it up to playing inconsistent hockey. After the Islanders started the season with the best record they’ve had since the 1982-83 season, they’ve most recently suffered three straight losses. So playing their systems and talking to each other out on the ice will hopefully turn things around.
“We haven’t been consistent the past couple games,” Konopka said. “Everyone just needs to pick it up a notch in intensity. I think we all realize that and you’ll see more intensity (Friday) night.”
The Islanders will definitely do their part to make amends after a performance that left the team feeling more than a little disappointed. They know that Canadiens goaltender Alex Auld, who is making his first start in net this season, will be fresh and ready to play but that won't stop them from firing off the shots.
“Last year I wouldn’t put it on ourselves, but right now this is a different team,” Konopka said. “Our expectations are much higher than the last few years. We’re looking towards this game as we need to be dominant in this game.”
And while the season is long, Bailey knows that the season will come with peaks and valleys, but that doesn’t make traveling the road to playoffs any less difficult
“It’s a long season, 82 games,” Bailey said. “I think you’re going to have your ups and downs and that was definitely a down for us (Wednesday) night. But I think you learn from it and try to move forward.”
Even though the Islanders had a bit of a disadvantage, starting the home-and-home series on the road, Konopka and the rest of the team are definitely looking forward to playing their first home game in 13 days.
“It’s a huge, huge advantage playing in this building in front of our fans,” Konopka said. “It’s a comfortable building for us. It’s an uncomfortable building for most visiting teams so we are excited to be back home.”
Welcoming the Islanders back to the Coliseum will be the newest concession and many players’ favorite spot for coffee: Tim Horton’s. At least the Canadien-born players will surely be sipping a cup-of-joe before faceoff.