As the New York Islanders prepared to take on the Los Angeles Kings, one thing was running through many of the players minds: how disappointed they were about their 6-3 loss to the Boston Bruins. But they’re professional athletes and as they left the Nassau Coliseum on Thursday night, the game was behind them and they know they have to move on in preparation to face-off against the Los Angeles Kings.
“You can’t accept losing,” Josh Bailey
said after Thursday night’s game. “That’s a recipe for disaster. We’ve definitely gotten away from that. We’re not happy about it. It is fun winning. Four in a row there, we were having fun. We just want to get back to that.”
Heading into Thursday matchup with the Bruins, the Islanders felt confident because they were riding a four-game win streak (their longest of the season). Unfortunately, when the puck dropped, time stood still for the Islanders young squad as they struggled to get the momentum going through the first 20 minutes of play.
“We came out of the gates slow and they scored on pretty much every opportunity that they got,” defenseman Andrew MacDonald
said. “It seemed like when we got a goal, they answered right back the next shift. That’s pretty frustrating.”
|Head coach Jack Capuano of the New York Islanders watches the action against the Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena on February 13, 2011 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images) |
MacDonald continued, “The 20 minutes that we took off just goes to show that we’re not a team that can afford to take that kind of time off. Although our record is not where we want it to be right now, we know we’re capable of playing strong 60 minute games and that will result in wins. We just have to figure that out.”
Set to take on the Kings, the Islanders know that they’re up for another challenge. Los Angeles may have lost to the New York Rangers in the shootout on Thursday night, but they’ve earned points in each of their last 11 games, posting an 8-0-3 record in that time.
Because of that fight and passion, the Kings have found themselves in the midst of the playoff race and are currently ranked eighth in the Western Conference. That little stat hasn’t been missed by Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano.
“They’re a dominant team,” Capuano said. “Again, everybody that we play is a good hockey team and our margin for error is slim. But if you look up and down their lineup, with the young team that they have, filtered in with some of their veteran guys and obviously on the back end with the two goaltenders that they have, they’re a very good hockey team, a team that’s hot since they’ve been on the road.”
For that reason, MacDonald knows the Kings will be another tough opponent.
“We can’t afford to take any time off at all,” MacDonald said. “They’re in the playoff race. It’s so tight in that conference that a win or a loss here and there can really change a team’s season. We obviously played them earlier in the year in LA and we didn’t have the best game, so we’re going to have to come prepared.”
And that’s exactly what Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano said he was going to discuss with the team in their post practice meeting after their hour-long practice on Friday morning.
|Michael Grabner #40 and Frans Nielsen #51 of the New York Islanders try for the rebound in the third period of an NHL hockey game at the Nassau Coliseum on February 17, 2011 in Uniondale, New York. Bruins won 6-3. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images) |
“We have to move our feet,” Capuano said. “We just stood around and watched all night. We didn’t move the puck quick enough, we didn’t get the puck off our stick, our forecheck was nonexistent. System wise we weren’t doing what we wanted to do. We weren’t playing within our system. There was just a period, looking back at it, that we just weren’t into it mentally and we weren’t focused or prepared to start the game.”
The start may not have been what they were hoping for, but the whole team knows they have what it takes to earn their next two points. Capuano even said, “It’s not a coincidence we had 21 shots in the second period.”
MacDonald said he felt confident in the team’s performance through the final 40 minutes. After having just four shots in the first period, he said, “We had almost 40 shots, which is something we haven’t done on a lot of occasions this season. I thought as the game went on, we got a lot better.”
Therefore, he’s hopeful that if the Islanders can play that way from the start, they’ll have an opportunity to win their matchup with the Kings.