Doug Weight knows the Islanders are better than this, better than 5-9-2 since the opening faceoff of December, better than their current season-high three-game skid. After all, they closed November at 15-7-2.
So the Isles coach bemoaned his players’ lack of fierceness after Tuesday night’s 5-1 loss to Boston at Barclays Center and called for an attitude adjustment in no uncertain terms after Wednesday’s practice. The Isles play at Philadelphia Thursday night, which begins an important stretch of three Metropolitan Division games in four days before their mandatory five-day break.
“We have a good team, and I just told the guys that we have a good team,” Weight said at Northwell Health Ice Center.
“ . . . We have some young players, but it’s time for our group to lose the frailty B.S. It really is. It’s OK. You’re going to have stretches. But we’ve got to come out of this. And we’ve got to come out with fight.
“We’ve got guys that have played in this league for a long time and have been here for a long time and are sick and tired. You can say that, but we’ve got to go put in a great effort (Thursday), gritty, be a team that’s just got some fight, hard to play against, and go from there.”
Anders Lee agreed about the compete level, saying, “I think for sure our attitude could be a little bit more strong.” The team’s leading goal scorer also said, “Guys are unhappy with what’s gone on . . . so we’re going to change it.”
The Islanders don’t hold a playoff ticket right now because Carolina has a game in hand for the second wild card in the East. Both teams have 44 points. The Isles, who are 20-16-4 overall and 0-5-1 in their last six on the road, are five points from third in the division.
After the Philadelphia game, they will be home Friday night against Pittsburgh and Sunday against the Devils.
“It’s a great setup for us,” Weight said. “It’s what we need. These are big games. It’s not now or never. It’s Jan. 3. But these games, we’re going to approach it like that . . . it can change your year for sure, and I’d like to think it’s going to change in a positive way.”
The Islanders are second in goals scored and in goals allowed.
“We’ve just got to play a little better team defense,” Nick Leddy said.
Leddy was back with Johnny Boychuk on defense at practice. Boychuk was making his return to the ice. The three-game skid has coincided with him being on IR due to a lower-body issue. Weight said he’s “hopeful” to have him against the Flyers.
“Everything is going to turn around,” Boychuk said. “I mean, we’re a good team. When we play like we’re a good team, then we’re unbelievable. But the last couple of games, we haven’t been playing our best and everybody knows it. You just have look yourself in the mirror and do your job.”