The Islanders have played well enough to be in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. But Barry Trotz, who led the Capitals to the Stanley Cup last season, understands the difference between playing hockey in January and once the postseason begins. So, as he tries to guide the Islanders to their first playoff appearance since 2016, he knows he’s going to need to coax his players to a higher level of performance.
“I think the older guys know that a little bit more,” Trotz said before the Islanders’ 2-1 overtime win over the Blues on Tuesday night at Barclays Center. “The younger guys, probably not as much. The level you’re playing at right now, if you played that in the playoffs, you’d have no chance of winning a game.”
Trotz believes imparting that urgency to the younger players is a shared effort between the coaching staff and the players who have experienced the grind of a playoff push.
“As we get down to the stretch, you’re going to start playing some playoff games because of the implications,” Trotz said. “When you get down to the last 20 games, everything goes up. The pace of the game and the intensity, it’s going to start building here.
“If you’re a guy who’s not going to be committed physically into the battle or emotionally into the battle, you’re going to disappear as the season wears on and you get into the playoffs.”
Trotz said left wing Andrew Ladd (injured reserve/lower body), who’s been out since Nov. 13, has resumed skating on his own. Defenseman Thomas Hickey (injured reserve/upper body), who missed his 13th straight game, continues to skate on his own. Trotz said there was no timetable for either to return…Valtteri Filppula tied Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle for the team lead with his third game-winning goal.