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Jack Capuano getting the most out of Isles players
BOSTON -- After the Islanders’ 2-1 win here on Thursday night, the loudest thing in the visitors’ dressing room was a bit of music -- and sarcastic booing from the stall of the reigning Good Guy Award winner when the media parade walked in, causing the music volume to be lowered.
But that’s all. No whooping, no hollering; maybe the Isles were done with that, but their post-game comments were all business.
“I don’t even think we’re close to playing our best yet,” said Travis Hamonic. “We’ve had some good results the last three weeks, but we all feel like we can still get better.”
There are many -- myself included -- who have questioned Jack Capuano’s coaching ability from the moment he arrived to lead the Isles in November of 2010. But he’s been a patient guy, intense when needed but usually hands-off when it comes to sloganeering or pumping his team up. He feels it’s best left to the players.
However, his main theme since he got here is that a team can’t be too satisfied with itself. His young (and some older) players didn’t let that sink in last season, and even at times early this season. But he didn’t yell and scream, he simply reinforced his messages and left the players alone.
And on Saturday, Capuano can move into second place all-time in wins as an Islander coach. He’ll still be about a million (OK, 758) wins behind Al Arbour, but Capuano has still gotten his team to do more than anyone, myself included, ever thought he could.
Had conversations with a couple old acquaintances now on the Bruins, Jaromir Jagr and Jay Pandolfo. Pandolfo was part of last season’s mediocrity and sees the biggest changes in Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey, whose confidence is soaring now.
As for Jagr, who has toyed with the Isles for two decades, I’ll paraphrase what he had to say: They’re a good team, but they’ve found a way to mess things up for themselves the last few years. Not anymore.
Jagr, incidentally, is the last active player remaining from the 1992-93 Pens-Isles series, also known as the last playoff series the Islanders won. Jagr had 94 points for Pittsburgh that season; he was fifth on the Penguins in scoring.
Saturday’s game against the Rangers is the biggest in the rivalry since . . . when?
Maybe April 3, 2007, when the Isles needed to kick off a furious last-week run to make the postseason.
The 3-2 shootout win over the Rangers got things started, though the Isles still needed a lot to happen -- they were tied for 10th after the two points.
So this Saturday, with a full house at the Coliseum, will be unique going back at least a decade. Both teams fighting for points, in similarly precarious positions. It will be a treat to watch, and we’ll have more here, on Steve Zipay’s Blue Notes, on Twitter and in the newspaper before the puck drops Saturday night.