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Pump up the volume

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano made some additions and subtractions prior to the players stepping onto the ice for Friday’s practice at Iceworks. As the Islanders continue to struggle offensively, the first change Capuano made was an obvious one.

As promised, he stripped all forwards of their multicolored jerseys that designate line pairings and ran practice with just one drill that could have been perceived as new line-pairings. However, he was tight lipped at the close of practice and didn’t say yay or nay for potential combinations.

“We are going to change the lines, but I’m not sure yet how set in stone and who’s going to go where,” Capuano said. “But the lines will be changed.”

Matt Martin skates against the San Jose Sharks at Nassau Coliseum on October 29, 2011. (By Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Even though the lines will change, Capuano said the execution of the team’s systems is where he’d like them to be.

“I feel good about the systems,” Capuano said. “We got our chances when we started establishing our forecheck. We were in the right place at the right times, we were moving our feet, using our points, getting pucks to the net, bodies to the net. It doesn’t matter who you play with, you still have to do those little things, it’s all part of the game that we play.”

The second change was a new one for many of the guys on the ice, though some of the players had seen this technique while playing under Capuano for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. For at least the first half of practice, the Isles Head Coach blasted music over the loud speakers inside the rink.

“It’s something I’ve done in the past,” Capuano said. “Today was a day I figured they might be a little bit down. I just wanted to get the music on and get out there and let them call for passes and loosen them up a little bit, have some fun and not hold their sticks as tight as some people think they are.”

Matt Martin said he wasn’t on the team when Capuano surprised the players by mixing it up like that, but he liked the change.

“With the music out there, you have to talk, you have to yell a lot louder to hear each other, call for the puck,” Martin said. “I mean, a few tunes out there helps lighten the mood. When a good song comes on you get a little more energy, it was a good change and we have to get ready for Washington.”

He added, “We should try something new because whatever we are doing right now, it’s not working.”

Islanders assistant captain Brian Rolston said he thought the team had a good practice, but said they need to find a way to get out of their scoring funk. If changing up the lines or playing music during practice is what it’s going to take, that’s what they’ll have to do.

“We are going through a tough time right now, but we are going to bounce out of it,” Rolston said. “It takes all of us in here (to win games) and we have to stay up. We can’t start feeling sorry for ourselves. We have to stay up, work hard and get out of it.”

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