Casey Cizikas stood by his locker after the New York Islanders beat the New York Rangers 4-1 on Thursday night. He had a good-sized cut – about an inch long – on the bridge of his nose, still bright red. He, like his undermanned teammates, left it all out on the ice in Thursday’s win, so when he was asked about whether it was in the best interest lose the game for a perceived easier playoff matchup, he had this to say.
“We want to win every game,” Cizikas said. “We want that momentum going into the playoffs. We want to be at the peak of our game knowing what it takes to be successful and playing that way. We’re not going to take a night off. We’re going to keep battling hard and keep doing what it takes to get the two points.”
John Tavares echoed that sentiment. With a competitive streak like his, throwing a game – or taking pride in losing – is completely out of the question.
“We play to win,” Tavares said. “We have a lot of pride as a group, especially when you play against your rival, it’s a lot of fun. We are going out there to play to win.”
Before Thursday’s game, there was still a chance the Islanders could get home ice in the first round of the playoffs. Pittsburgh’s win over Washington has since eliminated that possibility, but that desire was part of the fuel for the Islanders, but these guys are pro hockey players, competitiveness and winning are in their DNA. It’s why they play through pain. It’s why they’re some of the toughest athletes around.
The Penguins are 9-1-0 in their last 10 and are going to be a tough opponent for anybody, but if the Islanders want to win the Stanley Cup, they’re going to have do it by beating the best.
Cizikas, Tavares and the Islanders left it all out on the ice on Thursday because they wanted to win. They were also outshot 37-23 by the Rangers. Huh, looks like the Rangers wanted to win, too.