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Capuano on must-win games and younger players

New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano skates during

New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano skates during training camp. (Jan. 13, 2013) Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Jack Capuano is prepared for Tuesday’s game against the Panthers. He expects his Islanders team to be ready, too.

"We’re kidding ourselves if we’re thinking about it any other way than we have to be focused and committed to working hard,’’ he said. "At this time of year the teams that work the hardest and do the right things win hockey games. I don’t go in thinking 'must wins.' We got to play hockey, that's all I think about."

Capuano didn’t want to hear about the Panthers being a last place team.

"They’re a hard-working team and they will come hard," he said.

The coach was asked how he keeps the younger players, many of whom have not made the NHL playoffs before, stay focused down the stretch.

"They don’t have a choice, really,’’ he said. "They’ve got to have the right attitude. A lot of the guys, whether it's college or juniors, they’ve been in these situations before. We all have. It should mean a lot to them, they went through some struggles here, they haven’t been in this situation before. They’re in it now. You don’t know when you’re going to get back to this situation. It’s tough. It’s just getting to the dance and trying to do your thing to get in.’’

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