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Okposo believes Islanders starting to play to potential

by David Satriano

NEW YORK -- After a bit of a rough stretch early in the season, forward Kyle Okposo thinks the New York Islanders might finally be starting to click on all cylinders.

"We're getting there. It was a bit of a slow start," Okposo said Wednesday at the NHL Store Powered by Reebok before he signed autographs for fans at a launch for the OYO Sports Rink. "Definitely an adjustment period heading to Brooklyn and a feeling-out period. But I think we have kind of hit our stride. That West Coast trip was good for us, and we just have to keep playing well, keep stringing [wins] together. We have a huge home-and-home this weekend against Montreal."

The Islanders (10-6-3) have scored nine goals their past two games, each a win, after struggling offensively (seven in the previous four games), and Okposo has been one of the reasons for the turnaround. He had three assists in a 5-2 victory against the Arizona Coyotes on Monday and has five assists in the past three games.

The Canadiens, who are tied with the Dallas Stars and New York Rangers for most points in the League, will visit the Islanders on Friday and host them on Sunday.

"They've had our number a little bit recently, but definitely playing a team three times in a span of three weeks (Montreal won 4-1 at Bell Centre on Nov. 5), the intensity level has picked up and they've had a lot of success, and we want to come out and establish ourselves as a top team," Okposo said.

The Islanders moved to Barclays Center in Brooklyn this season and are 6-3-2 in their new arena. After making the Stanley Cup Playoffs and getting defeated by the Washington Capitals in seven games in the Eastern Conference First Round last season, Okposo hopes the Islanders can go on a deeper postseason run this season.

"We definitely want to take that next step as a team and have that kind of success in the playoffs," said Okposo, who has four goals and 12 assists in 19 games. "Ultimately, the goal is to raise that trophy, so it would be pretty neat to do it. It's really early now, so you kind of distance those thoughts, they are always in the back of your mind, but right now, you just want to focus on doing everything you can to help your team win and as it gets closer to the end of the winter and springtime, you start to think about that a little more."

Okposo, who got to see an OYO Sports figurine of himself, said his infant daughter will enjoy the toy.

"She likes it. She will definitely probably play with this one," he said. "I had a bobblehead at home, and she'd run around the house and say, 'Daddy hockey!' and ended up smashing it, so I need some new material. It's pretty cool that my daughter can play with stuff like this."

Before heading into Manhattan, Okposo spent the morning on Long Island participating in a school visit with several of his teammates.

"It's always fun talking to the kids," said Okposo, who the Islanders selected in the first round (No. 7) of the 2006 NHL Draft. "They get pretty excited when they get to get out of class and hear us talk to them about some important things. My favorite part is when they ask questions. They are so insightful and have a different perspective than the media. The questions they ask are so innocent and heartfelt."

Okposo, in his ninth season with New York, said he enjoys spending time with the fans.

"It's pretty neat when you interact with fans and kind of get their perspective and they are excited to see you and meet you," he said. "That's what drives our game, and what grows our game."


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