Instead of throwing away the tape after the New York Islanders shutout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, Head Coach Doug Weight sat down and watched it twice. Then he made the team watch it.
After back-to-back losses to Florida and Toronto, Weight held a blunt video session on Friday before putting the Islanders through a long and intense practice.
"They saw themselves making mistakes and [it] embarrassed them," Weight said, calling the clip reel the toughest one he's put together and going as far as to call it shameful. "[They] responded with a vocal, competitive practice with life, with energy and execution. It can go two ways and we all have been a part of it, but I like how we responded."
It wasn't an easy session for the team, but it was ultimately necessary to sit through the uncomfortable video.
"It wasn't pretty, picking out a lot of things that we need to work on and things that we need to get better at," Casey Cizikas said. "It's something that we have to see. You can't sugarcoat it, you have to watch it. That's the only way you're going to learn and get better."
What followed was a spirited practice: two-on-two, small-area drills, sprints down the ice between the circles, plus a series of other drills. Weight said to expect more practices like that down the stretch.
"We've been pretty disappointed and pissed off with the last couple of games and we showed it in practice," Anders Lee said. "We can't dwell on the past anymore, we have to move forward and learn from these last two games."
Weight didn't let himself off the hook either, saying that it's on him to get more consistency out of his team, especially in a tight playoff race.
As of Friday morning, the Islanders (55 points) are one point behind the Philadelphia Flyers (56 points) and three back of the Columbus Blue Jackets (58 points) for the Eastern Conference Wild Cards. The Carolina Hurricanes (56 points) and New York Rangers (55 points) stand between them, so while there's a crowd, the Islanders are still in the mix with 30 games to go.
"We're two points out. A couple teams have some games in hand and we have some work to do, but we're right there," Weight said. "There's time. I trust the group, I'm not selling out, but we have to compete."
ISLES SHUFFLE TOP-SIX:
Weight made a change to his top-six on Friday, swapping Anders Lee for Anthony Beauvillier. The Islanders top two lines feature five of the NHLs top-55 scorers, but after scoring three goals in three games, Weight felt mixing his top-six could re-ignite the offense.
"Just something a little change. A little more speed with Johnny," Weight said. "Maybe it's a period, maybe it's a game, maybe it's a couple…. All of have played to a top-six level for more occasions than not. Just mixing and matching a little bit, that's it."
ISLANDERS PRACTICE LINES:
|LEFT WING ||CENTER ||RIGHT WING |
|ANTHONY BEAUVILLIER ||JOHN TAVARES ||JOSH BAILEY |
|ANDERS LEE ||MATHEW BARZAL ||JORDAN EBERLE |
|ANDREW LADD ||BROCK NELSON/ALAN QUINE ||JASON CHIMERA |
|ROSS JOHNSTON/TANNER FRITZ ||CASEY CIZIKAS ||CAL CLUTTERBUCK |
Lee, who has played the entire season alongside Tavares, doesn't think it'll be a hard adjustment playing with Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle. Lee and Barzal already play together on the power play and his net-front game fits in easily up and down the lineup.
"We've played with each other, not as a line, but you see how they play as a line and you know what kind of players they are," Lee said. "We want to change things up and get some energy going and get all four lines going. Obviously playing with Barzy and Ebs are two great players and I think we'll have some good things going tomorrow."
Casey Cizikas also practiced at center after playing the last two games at left wing.
UPDATE ON BOYCHUK:
Doug Weight on Johnny Boychuk, who has been out since Dec. 28 with a lower-body injury, but practicing with the team since Jan. 19.
"He looked better today than he had on the road trip. I thought he was skating better, I didn't see a lot of grimaces out there, which has been an issue lately. It's been a good four or five days for him. That's all I got on that. He looks better and we want to get him back as soon as we can in a safe way."