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Second Round

Islanders try to remain sharp while waiting for second-round opponent

Swept Penguins, will play winner of Game 7 between Capitals, Hurricanes in next playoff series

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. -- Barry Trotz walked into his press conference Tuesday unaware of whom the New York Islanders will play in the Eastern Conference Second Round. Again.

Another day of practice, another day of waiting for the Islanders after the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Washington Capitals 5-2 in Game 6 at PNC Arena on Monday to tie that best-of-7 series 3-3. 

Game 7 will be played at Capital One Arena on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, SN360, TVAS, NBCSWA, FS-CR). The winner will play the Islanders in the second round. 

"I feel your pain," Trotz said jokingly to reporters.

It's the situation the Islanders put themselves in after sweeping the Pittsburgh Penguins. After a 3-1 win in Game 4 on April 16, they were given two days off before returning to practice Friday. They've been on the ice every day since, except for Sunday.

Video: Impact of long break on Blue Jackets, Islanders

It's fair to wonder what affect this layoff could do in particular to right wing Jordan Eberle, who scored five goals in the final seven games of the regular season and then in each of the four games against the Penguins. 

"I don't know which scorer isn't streaky," Eberle said Tuesday. "I think every guy is a little bit. But I've been fairly consistent over my years; I've pretty much scored 20 every year. You definitely have your ups and your downs, and the biggest thing is just try to minimize the downs.

"We've tried to do our best to stay in game shape and game situations in practice. I know it's tough, especially when you watch all this hockey being played. But at the end of the day, it should be an advantage. We'll be rested and ready to go."

Islanders captain Anders Lee said the players will not watch Game 7 of Hurricanes-Capitals as a group, but he will keep in touch with several of his teammates Wednesday night. The final tally could be as many as 11 days between games, but Lee said he is hopeful it will beneficial in the long run, especially with the toll a seven-game series will have on either Carolina or Washington. 

"We're in a position where we have some time off," Lee said. "They have an opportunity to go a full seven. There's pros and cons for both, but I think being able to rest up … it'll be a challenge for us to be hopping in that first period, but I think it'll be good for us.

"You go every other day in a physical series, some are more physical than others, but it doesn't matter what it is, it's four tough games in seven days. You feel great, you just won a series, but you're not going to take those extra days off lightly. Take whatever you can with the treatment and take advantage of it."

In the meantime, Trotz continues to find ways to keep the Islanders sharp. Whether it was doing crunches on the ice last Friday or scrimmaging Tuesday, he's doing everything to remind them there's another game and series on the horizon.

Tweet from @NYIslanders: Another day, another practice while we wait for Round ������. #Isles

"We're trying everything we can, other than playing an exhibition game against someone," Trotz said. "Trust me, we're fresh. We'll get the rust off. It may take a little bit, but we haven't had game action for a bit. That will come. That's not an issue. We're going to be enthused.

"It's grueling. The less games you can play, there's a benefit to it." 

No one on the Islanders knows that better than center Valtteri Filppula, who has 162 games of Stanley Cup Playoff experience, including a championship with the Detroit Red Wings in 2008. 

That season, the Red Wings swept the Colorado Avalanche in the second round. They waited a week to play again. 

"We've played a lot of hockey this season; it's not going to go anywhere," said Filppula, who had four assists and a plus-3 rating in the first round. "I think we just need to be able to take advantage of this break and this rest that we're getting right now."

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