The Islanders played three games in four days to start their first-round playoff series against the Panthers.
That’s not normal.
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Now they are playing three in seven days to start their second-round playoff series against the Lightning. Actually, it is three games in nine days if you count the two more off days to come after Game 3.ColumnHerrmann: Hamonic proving invaluable
That’s not normal, either.
The preferred — and customary — method for the hockey postseason is to play every other day, just enough time to recover yet not enough to get stale.
But arena availability and television time slots have conspired to create a weird situation the Islanders cannot do a thing about.
So they are doing their best to make the best of it and look at the bright side even as they acknowledge the downside.
“Off days are obviously nice; you get to rest the body,” Casey Cizikas said after practice Monday.
But . . . .
“When you’re trying to get on a roll you want to play every other day,” Cizikas added. “It’s definitely different now compared to what we did in the first round. Now it’s kind of spread out.”
So it went around the dressing room. Rest is good. Disjointedness is bad. And it’s not as if the Lightning players have a different itinerary.
“We’ve had plenty of rest now,” Isles captain John Tavares said. “Obviously after the Florida series having a couple of days and then a couple of days again after Game 1, I thought was key.
“I think now we’d like to get the series rolling. But the schedule is what it is. You deal with whatever comes your way. The circumstances are the same for both teams.”
Coach Jack Capuano said dealing with the schedule quirks is a group effort.
“We haven’t been through this before, that’s for sure,” he said. “It’s a little bit new to us. We’re used to playing quite a bit. But we just make sure we monitor their rest but at the same time we push them when we have to. So it’s just like during the season for me in certain areas.
“We understand it’s been a grind. There was a lot of travel this year. So we’ve monitored it, I think, pretty well as a strength and conditioning staff and our trainers and doctors and our nutrition people. It’s not all about the coaching when it comes to rest and recovery. There’s a lot that goes into it. I think our guys have done a good job.”
Goaltender Thomas Greiss said he stays sharp by going hard in practice. There isn’t much else that can be done.
“We’re dealing with it OK,” Matt Martin said. “We’ve had some rest. We haven’t had a whole lot of that at the end of the season and heading into the playoffs.
“It takes you out of the rhythm a little bit, but at the same time it allows you to spend some time with each other, with your families and get some rest along the way. And [the Lightning] are dealing with the same things.”