The Islanders had a meeting during the majority of their time together Friday, with coaches and players trying to talk through a slow start to the season that has dipped to a real low the past two games.
A 3-2 shootout loss to the Flyers on Thursday night dropped the Isles to 4-6-1 this season, tied for 14th in the Eastern Conference, but there still is confidence in the room among the players and trust in the coaching staff. Two sources told Newsday that there has been no discussion in the front office about removing coach Jack Capuano.
The surprising Oilers will bring a 7-3-1 record and a host of talented youngsters into Saturday night’s game against the Islanders at Barclays Center.
“We know it’s early, but at the same time, we need to flip the switch,” Brock Nelson said. “Tomorrow’s the biggest game of the year and we need to have a little urgency, a lot of energy and be that team that’s hard to play against.”
In earning only one point in the past two games and three points in the last five (1-3-1), the Islanders have been unable to break out of their own zone with speed or cohesion.
They’re last in the NHL in Corsi differential, a statistic that measures shot attempts for and against. Shot generation is one of Capuano’s keys to victory, but his team has been outshot and outchanced too often this season.
“We got away from that a little bit where there’s a lot more wall play now vs. short support,” Capuano said, noting that his team has tried to accentuate defensive-zone breakouts away from the boards, where opposing teams can clog up a transition more easily. “They’ve seen the good and the bad in the video and hopefully we can get back to that. It’s a big part of what we came up with over the summer. It has dropped, but we’ve just got to make sure we work as a unit of five on those breakouts and we’ll have a better success rate.”
Capuano also has cycled through numerous line combinations in search of consistent offense from his forwards. It seems unlikely that he’d start Saturday night’s game with John Tavares between Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck, a line he came up with during Thursday night’s loss, but he needs several forwards to find some offense, and soon.
“You know what’s expected of certain people when you have that,” Jason Chimera said, “and now it’s taken a lot longer for me and Andrew [Ladd] to get going, it’s taken a long time to get some chemistry. We’re really past the feeling-out time, though. We’ve got to get going.”