Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera looked back at their first season as New York Islanders on Monday.
The Islanders' free agent signees had similar experiences in their first year with the team, starting out slowly, but coming alive in the second half and reaching the 20-goal mark. When it was all said and done, Ladd netted 23 goals while Chimera scored his 20th of the season in the Islanders' season finale, finishing third and fourth in goals, respectively.
"It was obviously not the start that I wanted, but as the season went on, I got comfortable and was able to get it going towards the latter half of the season," Ladd said. "I was definitely a lot happier with the way I was playing at the end of the year."
Video: Isles Clean Out Day: Andrew Ladd
Ladd had three goals in his first 25 games, which could be partially attributed to adjusting to new surroundings and teammates after four-and-a-half years in Winnipeg and partially to a nagging injury in the first half. He found his way under Interim Coach Doug Weight, scoring 15 goals - the second-most on the team - under the new coach. Weight also made the decision to rest and heal Ladd in January.
"Sometimes it just takes time," Ladd said. "Everyone needs to figure out where they fit in and for us it just took a little bit. Once [the team] got it rolling, we were tough to play against every night."
Video: NYI@CAR: Ladd beats Lack with sneaky snap shot
For the 37-year-old Chimera, 20 goals tied his career-high, done twice previously, including last season with Washington. The speedy winger also started slow, netting one goal in his first 21 games and five in his first 36, but finished strong with 15 goals in his final 46 games.
Once Chimera got rolling, he was as advertised: a fast, durable player who goes to the dirty areas and an upbeat presence in the room. He played in all 82 games for the third time in four seasons, though he said the personal achievements felt hollow on clean out day.
"I'd rather get 10 goals and be in the playoffs right now than have 20 goals and not be in the playoffs," Chimera said.
Video: Isles Clean Out Day: Jason Chimera
Chimera echoed the same sentiment as Ladd. He too was making an adjustment after spending seven years in Washington, so he spent the first half of the season getting acclimated to a new team and vice versa. It seemingly wasn't until Chimera and Ladd started playing with Alan Quine that the new guys started to look comfortable and produce.
"For whatever reason we weren't clicking," Chimera said. "I don't know if it was due to a lack of chemistry with everybody or just not familiar with the lines. You look back at that and are disappointed with the way it started. Maybe if you would have started a little better, you'd be in the playoffs."
Video: NJD@NYI: Chimera finds twine on stellar solo effort
Missing the playoffs was a disappointment for Chimera, who after playing in his 1,000th game said winning a Stanley Cup is the last unchecked box on his NHL list. He's putting stock in the Islanders' second-half run as reason to be optimistic for next season.
"One point isn't too much. If you were eight points out, maybe we did some things wrong," Chimera said. "It was a lot of fun this year, a lot of good people in the room, definitely the right choice to sign here, I still believe that."