by Corey Witt
With the Olympic break in the rearview mirror and all five Olympians back with the team, the Islanders skated as a complete squad today for the first time since their 2-1 victory in New Jersey on February 11. It was clear that everyone at Islanders Iceworks today had one thing on their mind: the playoff push.
The Islanders find themselves only six points behind the eighth seeded Montreal Canadiens, who also happen to be their opponent tomorrow night at the Nassau Coliseum. A win tomorrow and the Islanders are right back in the thick of it and all 22 players know it.
"We're chasing a few teams, but if we keep winning, we can jump over them quickly," said Mark Parrish. "Montreal is one of those teams and we need to collect these two points. We know we can be a playoff team. We have to scratch and claw for every point to make that happen."
Starting tomorrow, the Islanders will play 17 games in 32 days through the end of March. April doesn't ease up either, so it'll be a tough haul the rest of the way.
"It's a tough stretch for sure, but every team is in the same boat," said Chris Campoli. "The disadvantages to a compact schedule are obvious, but the advantages are that if you can get on a role, it's easy to sustain that momentum and collect points."
Six points out of a potential playoff spot and a condensed schedule for the next month and a half a head of them, it's easy to say the Islanders have their backs against the wall. Others disagree.
"We're a relaxed and rested team," said goalie Rick DiPietro. "We've been practicing well for the last few days, too. This is an opportunity to prove people wrong about the New York Islanders."