As the snow continued to fall on my way to the Nassau Coliseum, it was probably not the best night to be driving in to see the Islanders final game before the All-Star break. While the snow limited the attendance to only 4,976 last night, the Islanders got off to another slow start- something that has plagued them for much of the season. Perhaps some of the players were already thinking about the upcoming break in the schedule.
The Hurricanes Eric Staal scored two goals in a 1:38 span in the second period to lead the Carolina Hurricanes over the Islanders by a final score of 4-2.
While head coach Jack Capuano praised forward Michael Grabner’s play after the game, he was one of the few bright spots for a team seemingly in desperate need of a break. In the post game press conference, head coach Jack Capuano said he “found it disturbing that some players were selfish for the first time, leaving goaltender Rick DiPietro out to dry on a few occasions, and not playing within the team concept.”
The recent stretch leading up the the All-Star break certainly may have contributed to the players becoming “drained mentally and tired”, as Capuano put it. However, when the team returns after the break, Capuano insisted they will get back to business, and play within the team concept and system.
He went on to say that the team will not continue to go on losing games, and reward players that do not deserve it. If Capuano stays true to his word, perhaps guys like Grabner and Nielsen will begin to see more ice- only time will tell.
It has been a tough season thusfar for the Islanders, particularly with the rash of injuries the team has had to endure. One positive thing Capuano stressed after the contest last night was that the team does work extremely hard. A good sign considering these young Islanders will continue to be tested the rest of the way.
While it is no secret that the Islanders are not the most talented bunch in the NHL right now- the potential is there. However, It is essential that all the players buy in to the team concept, and do not ignore the little things. This starts with the young leaders of this team, guys like John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, and Josh Bailey. They must continue to work hard and lead by example.
Things like taking short shifts, being aware of the situation, and knowing who is on the ice are all significant. Not only do they make a big difference in the outcome of games now, but they are also considerable in the development of becoming consistent National Hockey league players. The importance of staying focused on their responsibilitites on the ice without making excuses can not be overlooked.
Let’s hope the Isles can respond with hard work and focus necessary to carry them the rest of the season.