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Islanders facing dire predictions 'slap in the face,' Boychuk says

Defenseman reportedly believes 'our team is really good' despite losing Tavares @NHLdotcom

Johnny Boychuk said the New York Islanders will remain playoff contenders after losing John Tavares and predictions that put them closer to last in the NHL are "a slap in the face."

"I've already seen some people pegging us as being in the bottom," the defenseman told The Athletic on Monday. "That's just a slap in the face when I see it. Our team is really good. I think we're going to show them we are a good team."

Tavares, the Islanders captain since 2013-14 and leading scorer in seven of his nine NHL seasons, signed a seven-year, $77 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 1.

With Tavares, the Islanders won one Stanley Cup Playoff series, three seasons ago in the Eastern Conference First Round, when his goal in the second overtime of Game 6 eliminated the Florida Panthers. It is New York's only series win since 1993.

"People shouldn't be worrying about one person. In hockey, one person does not make a team, at all," Boychuk said. "One guy can't carry a whole team, be the whole team. It was an important player for us, but there's 23 players on a team and you have to hold 23 players accountable to win a season, a championship."

Video: NYI@CGY: Boychuk nets point shot off defender's stick

The Islanders now have Lou Lamoriello as general manager and Barry Trotz as coach, and signed free agent forwards Leo Komarov and Valtteri Filppula to join a group that includes NHL rookie of the year Mathew Barzal, Brock Nelson and Anders Lee.

The website said there is no immediate plan to name a captain to replace Tavares. Boychuk, Komarov, Filppula and forward Josh Bailey each has been an alternate captain in the NHL.

"We're in good hands for sure," Bailey said. "New eyes can be a good thing, maybe put some guys on edge a bit. A new start for some, maybe some motivation for others. Different isn't always a bad thing."

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