The NHL standings are posted daily at the Islanders’ practice facility in East Meadow. So even if it’s way too early in the season to focus on them, the team knows it hasn’t significantly closed the gap on the first-place Capitals in the Metropolitan Division despite its 13-game point streak.
“We’re definitely aware of it,” right wing Jordan Eberle said after Friday’s practice. “We joke about it for sure. They’re obviously playing well, too.”
The second-place Islanders (13-3-1) will take a 12-0-1 streak into Saturday night’s game at Philadelphia to start a stretch of 10 of 13 games on the road.
Yet the Capitals (14-3-4) brought a 12-1-2 streak into Friday night’s 5-2 home loss to the Canadiens. Washington, which has played four more games than the Islanders, will face the Bruins in Boston on Saturday night.
“You’re aware of everything,” said forward Josh Bailey, who resumed practicing on Friday after leaving midway through Thursday’s practice because of soreness stemming from Wednesday night’s 5-4 win over the Maple Leafs at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum.
“You’re probably not focusing on it a heck of a lot at this point,” Bailey added. “You just want to keep climbing and keep playing good hockey. Later in the year, you start paying a little closer attention. But we’re still aware of it.”
The Islanders earned a 5-3 victory over the visiting Flyers — who are in their first season under former Rangers, Canucks and Canadiens coach Alain Vigneault — at the Coliseum on Oct. 27. Entering Friday night’s 2-1 loss to the Senators in Ottawa, the Flyers (10-6-3) had gone 5-1-2 since that loss to the Islanders, including a 2-1 shootout loss to the Capitals on Wednesday.
“We’re not chasing anybody, we’re just worrying about the next game,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “Right now, the Caps are playing extremely well. I got to see them play the Flyers. They’re going on all cylinders.”
The Capitals beat the Islanders, 2-1, in the Islanders’ season opener at the Coliseum on Oct. 4, part of a 1-3-0 start for the Isles that also included regulation losses to the Oilers and Hurricanes.
“If you look at the three games we’ve lost, Washington, they’re doing what they’re doing, Edmonton is a top three or four in the league and Carolina, who’s playing really well,” Eberle said. “Just in that, we should be pretty confident that we’re a pretty good hockey team. That being said, in the division, eventually, we’re going to have to go through the Caps.”
Notes & quotes: Left wing Andrew Ladd (knee), in the fourth season of a seven-year, $38.5 million deal, cleared waivers and was loaned to the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport after being activated off long-term injured reserve. He has not played in the NHL since March 24 . . . Left wing Matt Martin (injured reserve/lower body) practiced with his teammates, albeit in a non-contact jersey, for the first time since his left knee crashed into an open door on the Senators’ bench in a 4-2 win at Ottawa on Oct. 25.