The Islanders have won two straight for the first time this season and the winless Coyotes are coming to Barclays Center on Tuesday.
Perhaps guarding against any sort of complacency — which would be a bit haughty for a 4-3-1 team — or simply because he wasn’t thrilled with the level of urgency in practice on Monday, Doug Weight got a little snarly with his team during the hour-long session at Northwell Health Ice Center.
“Coming off a day off, maybe being a little lackluster,” Weight said. “Couple things we had issues with last game that are important to learn from. You can play as hard you can in practice but it’s not a game. You need to push yourself, exaggerate, whether it’s an offensive route or a battle, you need to work hard and repeat that stuff. Then it’ll happen in the game. I didn’t see it, so I didn’t like it.”
There were certainly some things Weight saw that he did like in Saturday’s 5-3 win over the Sharks. John Tavares racked up two assists and an empty-net goal to snap a five-game pointless streak. Mathew Barzal had a point for a third straight game, setting up Andrew Ladd’s go-ahead goal in the third. And Josh Bailey continued his strong start to the season with a highlight-reel goal and an assist, giving him a share of the team lead with six points through eight games.
Weight also went with 11 forwards and seven defensemen on Saturday for the second straight game, but any sort of superstition is out the window — he’ll be going to back to the more traditional 12 forwards and six defensemen for Tuesday’s game, believing that to be more sustainable over the long haul of a season.
“John was at 14 minutes after two [on Saturday], so we were able to manage that a bit better and get him under 20 for the game,” Weight said. “It’s tough when you’ve got some guys who sit a while and others you’re leaning on.”
Nikolay Kulemin, a healthy scratch the last two games, and Scott Mayfield, who Weight said was “a little banged up” and sat out Saturday, will both be back in the lineup. That likely means Dennis Seidenberg and Ryan Pulock go back to street clothes though Weight did not commit on Monday to revealing his lineup decisions.
Josh Ho-Sang may again be a healthy scratch, having sat out Saturday’s game. Jaroslav Halak, who beat the Rangers in a shootout on Thursday, gets the call in net.