To sum up the Islanders' situation, consider the personal journey of defenseman Dylan Reese. He's up, he's down. He's "feeling confident" right now, and "it's just about not getting too high or too low."
Consecutive first-rate road victories over two of the league's best teams, Washington and Philadelphia, have the Islanders (18-21-6) simultaneously encouraged and guarded. "Yeah, we've won a few games here," coach Jack Capuano said, "but the bottom line is to stay consistent against Carolina [Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum]."
Reese, 27, knows the drill. He has spent the past three seasons shuttling between the Islanders and their minor-league Bridgeport affiliate, a revolving door of being pumped up and let down. "I want to take it one day at a time," he said. "It's nice being up. This last stint, when I came up but didn't play for five games, it was nice being here with the team practicing, getting my legs under me, feeling the confidence that I needed.
"I think some of the worst games I played last season were the ones that I'd come up the night before, just saw the guys for the first time in a month, maybe, was cast into the game to finish up. I feel this year, so far, has been undoubtedly the best of the three, and when the team's winning, the atmosphere is better, happier; that's a huge part of it."
Notes & quotes: Goalie Al Montoya, out with a concussion for a month, "is coming along fine," Capuano said, with "more game-like situations in practice and more traffic." He appears close to getting a start.