Although officially eliminated from the playoff race, the Islanders said they will not mail in the rest of the season.
They might not be jockeying for position in the Eastern Conference standings, but there is still plenty to play for during their final six games.
"I don't think it matters when you're eliminated. It shouldn't affect anyone's play, how anyone approaches the game," said Matt Moulson, who has posted back-to-back 30-goal seasons. "We have a lot to prove and a lot to play hard for."
Coach Jack Capuano hopes that attitude is consistent among everyone on his team.
"If there's one thing I can preach, it's habits down the stretch," Capuano said Saturday night after his team's 4-1 loss to Philadelphia. "Continue to play within the team concept, continue with the attention to detail and focus on what our coaches are trying to teach. And doing the right things at the right time. That's what you have to do to be successful."
Capuano routinely scoffed at the notion that the team was playing well as a result of a "loose" or "pressure-free" environment. Not when contracts and playing time are at stake, he said.
Several players are either chasing milestones or facing critical junctures of their careers. Or both.
With career highs since joining the Islanders this season, PA Parenteau is two goals from becoming the fifth player on the team to reach 20. John Tavares, in his second season, is only three away from joining Matt Moulson and Michael Grabner in the 30-goal club. And Grabner is at 31 goals and counting, looking to further his case for the league's Rookie of the Year award.
Al Montoya wants to solidify his place as a bona fide starting goaltender. Blake Comeau wants to remain as part of the young nucleus. Zenon Konopka wants to stick as one of the vocal members of the team's emerging leadership.
No, these games are not meaningless.
"We'll keep playing hard for each other, the organization," Bailey said. "There are lots of ways to still get motivated."