Islanders' slide doesn't seem like last season

Islanders head coach Jack Capuano gives players instructions

Islanders head coach Jack Capuano gives players instructions in the closing minutes of their 4-2 victory over the Rangers at the Coliseum. (Oct. 15, 2011) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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It's not as if the Islanders have to remind themselves they haven't won a game since Oct. 15 -- they've gone 0-3-2 since that 4-2 win over the Rangers and a quick check of the standings shows them in 14th place in the Eastern Conference entering Tuesday's games.

But there isn't much thought about last season's 1-17-3 slide, a run of futility that lasted from Oct. 23, 2010 until Dec. 16.

"I don't feel like there's a need to be in panic mode, by any means," Jack Capuano said after the Islanders had an hourlong practice at IceWorks in Syosset Tuesday. "The last couple weeks doesn't feel like [last year]. I think we've played pretty well, especially the last couple games, we just haven't had the results."

Capuano admitted there were times last season when he felt his team was overmatched or a bit lost -- he took over on Nov. 15 and the team won only one of his first 11 games. But with a power play and penalty kill that are working well and a team in decent health, this doesn't feel like last season. Not even when some players glance at the standings.

"It's too early to find any conclusions from that," Mark Streit said. "To me, it's way more important the way we play, the mood in the room, and both of those things have been good. Our game is improving."

Capuano has generally stuck to the same line combinations since opening night, and the third line of Josh Bailey centering Blake Comeau and Brian Rolston had its first solid, full-game effort in Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss to the Sharks.

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Bailey and Comeau still have no points this season and Rolston has two assists.

"There are some guys we need to get going here, and Brian is one of them," Capuano said. "I'm not looking to change lines, but you may see a center here or a winger there change around in a game. Rolston's one of those guys I have to help get going."

With the struggling Jets coming to the Coliseum tomorrow, it's a chance for every Islander to get going, or risk having those standings begin to mean something.

Notes & quotes: RW Nino Niederreiter (groin) was sent to Bridgeport on a conditioning assignment and will play Wednesday for the Sound Tigers. Niederreiter can stay at Bridgeport for up to two weeks. LW Trevor Gillies cleared waivers and also reported to Bridgeport . . . G Evgeni Nabokov (lower body) skated for the first time since he was injured in Pittsburgh last Thursday, taking a few shots on goal before practice.

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