Islanders coach Jack Capuano is fully aware of the history. The Islanders dropped three of the last four games in the conference quarterfinals against the Capitals last year and haven’t won a playoff series since 1993 — a stretch that is longer than current players Ryan Strome, Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock have been alive.
But he refuses to look at that ticking clock and register any added pressure.
“I don’t feel any pressure,” Capuano said Tuesday after the first of back-to-back practices at Syosset’s IceWorks. “It takes a lot of luck, a lot of health, a lot of special teams and a lot of goaltending to get by another round. If we do that, we have a chance . . . We just want to play well and give it the best shot that we can and know that when this series is over, you look in the mirror and know you gave it everything you had. That’s all you can ask for your guys.”
On Wednesday, before the team was set to depart for Florida to take on the Panthers in Game 1 Thursday night, Capuano doubled down on his philosophy. Various times in his conversation with reporters he used the word “fun” — and that, he said, is one of the main focuses of this upcoming series. Fun, not history. Winning the 16 games needed to capture the Stanley Cup comes down to more than just skill, he said.
“The one thing you have to realize is the sacrifice that goes in this,” he said. “You play these games and you work as hard as you want to work and you have goals in life, and you have to enjoy it. Pressure is a good thing because it means you have a chance but . . . It’s a short memory if you lose a game, it’s a short memory if you have a bad shift. Just go out and play the game . . . Enjoy the moment, embrace the challenge ahead and have some fun with this.”