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Notebook: Dec. 28th

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
The Islanders are set to play the Calgary Flames tomorrow at Nassau Coliseum. With two days between games, Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano skated the team pretty hard Tuesday afternoon. At the end of it, the players were exhausted, but all seemed understanding of the difficult practice.

“I think we needed it,” Isles center Josh Bailey said. “The guys definitely appreciated it. It was a tough practice and the guys responded well and worked really hard. It was definitely a good time for it; we needed that little slap in the butt. We’ve talked a lot as a team as well and we know what we need to do. It’s just a matter of bearing down and doing it; that’s going to be key right now.”

Streit had the same reaction.

“It was time,” Streit said. “We needed a practice like that. It was hard and intense, but it was good. It was time for that. The last three games, we didn’t play well. We needed some battle drills, some skating. It was hard, but I actually liked it a lot.”

Line Combinations
In an attempt to get the scoring touch back, Capuano made adjustments to the line combinations for the second time this season.

“We’ve gone through this drought long enough,” Capuano said. “No one is getting demoted. We don’t have first line, second line, third line, fourth line, when people ask. If you look at the Ranger game, our other guys (Bailey and Reasoner lines) did the job in that game and they grinded it out and played physical.”

Capuano continued, “Matty Martin, Timmy Wallace, Michael Haley and Marty Reasoner, those guys played extremely hard. So every night is a different challenge, but we have to figure out a way to get all four lines going on the same night. This was just a situation where things weren’t clicking and little, minor adjustment might help us.”

Up to this point, Capuano has kept the top two lines static. Now, Matt Moulson and John Tavares will be joined by Kyle Okposo.

“The three of us played together two years ago,” Okposo said. “We had some pretty good chemistry and we’ll see if we can get a little bit of that back here. We are struggling to find some offense here, especially even strength. So we are just looking to change a couple things up. We did it once this year, so we’ll see what happens.”

Frans Nielsen’s linemates have both changed. He’s now flanked by Brian Rolston (left) and PA Parenteau (right). The bottom two lines changed from Tuesday to Wednesday, so those lines could change again before tomorrow’s game.

Michael GrabnerJosh BaileyNino Niederreiter (Jay Pandolfo)
Tim Wallace – Marty ReasonerMatt Martin

Michael GrabnerJosh BaileyMatt Martin
Tim Wallace – Marty ReasonerNino Niederreiter (Jay Pandolfo)

“Just watching as much tape as we watch and the way that Matty gets in on the forecheck and crashes and bangs, with the experience that he has, it’ll compliment Josh and Grabs,” Capuano said.

Bailey and Martin have already played a few games together this season, so he knows what to expect from his physical winger. However, Bailey is optimistic about playing with Grabner:

“I’m certainly looking forward to playing with Grabby,” Bailey said. “Everyone knows what he is capable of and his speed, scoring touch. It’s certainly a welcome addition to play with him.”

Continuing to work on the PP

While limiting turnovers and playing hard for a complete 60-minute effort are important, Capuano has often said he believes that special teams are the key to the Islanders success. Having a strong power play and penalty kill will help the Isles win, but playing strong five-on-five and having extended offensive zone time will force teams to take penalties and give the Isles the man advantage.

“When we are going five on five, that’s when we are drawing the most penalties, where we are scoring the most goals,” Bailey said. “When you get things going five-on-five, it leads to more confidence, more scoring chances and offensive zone time.”

Once on the Isles are on the power play, Capuano hopes they stop hesitating to shoot the puck.

“I think they are hesitating or they feel like when that guy is in that lane, there’s nothing there,” Capuano said of missed opportunities on the power play. “Some of our best plays are just short little wristers to the net or just shooting wide off the net a little bit. It’s making sure that when they challenge up top, there’s a three-on-two down low. We have to make sure we find that play and get it to the net.”

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