The recipe for success early this Islanders season seemed to be simple: Don't play the defending champions.
The home-and-home openers with the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday and Saturday proved to be just as difficult as they sounded when the schedule came out in July. The Islanders outplayed Chicago on Friday at Barclays Center but lost in overtime, then were far outplayed by the Blackhawks at United Center the following night.
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But as Calvin de Haan noted with a bit of a rueful laugh following Saturday's 4-1 loss, there were still 80 games left in the season. "It's not time to panic," he said.
Following Monday's 4-2 win over the Jets, there was certainly a feeling of relief. All the upheaval caused by moving from Nassau Coliseum to Brooklyn and the numerous questions about train timetables, day hotel rooms and ice conditions could threaten to cause more tension than necessary. So a win, and a rather dominant one at that, drew some relaxed smiles in the swanky locker room.
"Friday was disappointing because we played well and I thought we deserved a better result," John Tavares said. "Saturday was disappointing because we didn't play the way we know we can. This is a big week at home and we wanted to get it started the right way."
The Islanders know from slow starts and how damaging they can be. Last season's 16-6-0 start basically ensured the Isles of a playoff berth; going 8-18-5 (2013-14) and 9-14-6 (2011-12) basically doomed both of those seasons.
So getting things turned around after facing the difficult Hawks was imperative.
"I think everybody felt a lot better today," Tavares said. "We had a tough couple of games to start but this is just the beginning."
Notes & quotes: D Ryan Pulock, who hadn't played in any of the first three games, was sent to Bridgeport and played for the Sound Tigers last night. With the vacant roster spot, the Islanders signed F Eric Boulton to a one-year deal worth $575,000 plus bonuses. Boulton, 39, attended training camp on a tryout. This is his fourth season with the team.