Islanders must regroup after losing John Tavares for season

Canada forward John Tavares is helped up off

Canada forward John Tavares is helped up off the ice by a trainer during the second period of a men's quarterfinal ice hockey game against Latvia at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on Feb. 19, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Credit: AP / Mark Humphrey)

There won't be any team meetings once all the Islanders are back together for Sunday's practice. There won't be any "rally the troops, boys" speeches from Jack Capuano or any of the veterans in an attempt to get the team past the huge blow of losing John Tavares for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

"I think it's pretty obvious," Evgeni Nabokov said after the majority of the team practiced at IceWorks in Syosset Friday. "We don't need special meetings or talks. We're all aware of the situation now. You have to look at it as an opportunity for everyone here -- if you think you weren't getting enough ice before, now you're going to get it and you better do something with it. We all need to be better."

That was true heading into the Olympic break, with the Isles 1-6-1 in their final eight games. It's far more true now with Tavares done for the season with MCL and meniscus tears suffered in Wednesday's quarterfinal win by Canada over Latvia in Sochi.

Not to mention the pending trades of Thomas Vanek and Andrew MacDonald before the March 5 deadline. The final 22 games of this Islanders season could be ugly, but Capuano and the players haven't thrown in the towel, even if plenty of observers have.

"Everyone realizes what Johnny means to this team and this organization," Capuano said. "It's time to focus on the people we do have moving forward. Players go down and other guys have to step up."

Vanek and Michael Grabner will return Sunday. Ryan Strome likely will rejoin the team from Bridgeport after the Sound Tigers finish their weekend games Sunday, possibly along with teammate Anders Lee, to try to fill the scoring void left by Tavares. Said Nabokov, "It's a chance for us to show what we're made of."

Notes & quotes: Frans Nielsen (broken hand) and Matt Martin (lower body) still are not practicing. Nielsen is unlikely to be ready for Thursday's game against Toronto. Martin might resume practicing by next week.

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