Coach Jack Capuano hopes some proper forward thinking will shake his Islanders out of their mini-slump.
The Islanders have scored only once in their last two games entering Tuesday night’s matchup against the Blue Jackets at Barclays Center.
“Our forwards need to realize they have to take the game over,” Capuano said Monday after telling his team: “Some how, some way, you’ve got to dig deep and you’ve got to find a way. You’ve got one goal in the last six periods of hockey. I don’t care what kind of defense that you play. At some point, you’re going to have to get a couple of goals to win a game.”
The players agree that they need to refine their transition game.
“The last couple of games, we just haven’t been as sharp as we usually are,” Kyle Okposo said, “especially with our exits in our d-zone.”
Said Josh Bailey, “At times when you get bogged down, you get a little tired and you don’t have as much energy going on the attack and you end up dumping it and changing.’’
The Islanders (22-15-5) took only 20 shots in Saturday’s 4-0 loss to the Flyers in Philadelphia. Okposo dismissed it as “just a bad game.”
“I’m not really reading much into it,” he said. “It’s not time to panic or say all of a sudden we’re not a good team because we lost a couple of games. We have a good hockey team . . . But at the same time, we have to make sure we’re pushing forward. We’ve got a couple of weeks until the break here and we’ve got to make sure we’re putting our best foot forward and put ourselves in a good position for the stretch run.”
A win over Columbus, which has the fewest points in the league, certainly would help. The Isles beat the Blue Jackets (15-24-4) in both previous matchups this season but aren’t taking anything for granted.
“They were probably the better team when we won in their building the last time, so we’ve got to be ready,” Frans Nielsen said.
Added Capuano: “It’s a big game for us. We know what they’re going to do. I’m just concerned that we’re focused. We’re going to be dialed in and we’re going to play desperate hockey.”