Islander Head Coach Jack Capuano instilled an underdog, "us-against-the-world" mentality in his team all season, repeatedly reminding his players that no one picked the Islanders to be competitive this season.
Capuano said his team played almost a complete game in the series opener, a 4-1 road win over the Washington Capitals. Now that his team is up 1-0 in the first-round series, he doesn’t want them straying from the frame of mind that’s proven successful in the Islanders best season since 1983-84.
“You can’t look at it as though you’re up 1-0,” Capuano said. “You have to have a short memory this time of year. You’re going to win games, you’re going to lose games. It's how you respond.”
The Islanders are preparing for a strong pushback from the Capitals in Game Two on Friday. The Capitals matched the Islanders with 101 points this season and are a formidable team with the league’s leading goal scorer, Alex Ovechkin, league’s assist leader, Nicklas Backstrom, and a goalie in Braden Holtby who finished second in wins and shutouts.
“It is a long series and there’s a long way to go,” captain John Tavares said. “We have to expect their best game tomorrow, their best effort, so that’s going to have to raise our game, raise our play, raise our intensity and our focus.”
Having that awareness is helping the Islanders slide back into that underdog mentality.
“We just have to put this one behind us and prepare the same way we did for Game One,” Calvin de Haan said. “We just have to keep doing the things we were doing, we have to weather their storm. They are going to come out twice as hard as they did in the first game. If we match their intensity, then we’ll have a good shot at winning the game.”
Game Two goes Friday night at 7 p.m.