The mixed bag of results from opening weekend for the Islanders might not be the worst thing for Jack Capuano and his team.
The Islanders' talk of feeling hungrier than in years past to start this 2013-14 season, after the strong finish and competitive playoff round last spring, was used as fuel to start strong and stay strong this season -- to avoid the sluggish, frustrating first two months of each of the previous three seasons.
The Islanders mucked their way through a shootout win over the Devils on Friday night, then were reminded that some other teams are hungry, too, when they coughed up a two-goal lead and gave away a point in a shootout loss to the Blue Jackets in Saturday's home opener.
"We have to learn no matter what the score is, you can't be on the perimeter," Capuano said after Saturday's one-point night (the Islanders were off Sunday). "You can always learn from anything. Can we learn from a 2-0 lead? Yeah, they'll see the video. To me, it was more of, offensively, we didn't do what we had to do."
There certainly were positives to take away from both games for the Islanders. A few players who looked out of sync on Friday picked up their play on Saturday, most notably John Tavares and linemates Kyle Okposo and Matt Moulson, who played more befitting a top line than the mess of overstayed shifts on Friday in Newark.
Thomas Hickey and Lubomir Visnovsky rebounded from a rough first game to be stronger at both ends of the ice on Saturday. Brock Nelson, perhaps the least heralded rookie forward prospect of the three vying for a spot (along with Ryan Strome and Anders Lee) heading into camp, was the most consistent Islanders forward in the first two games.
The Islanders also showed a willingness to sacrifice themselves to make plays both nights. But sitting back with a two-goal lead is not a new problem for them. It's something that plagued them during the formative years of this current roster, during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, when the Isles tried to talk themselves into being a more consistent team than they were.
"You have to make sure you have the willingness to compete every shift," Capuano said. "I thought our guys played hard. We got three out of four points. That's a positive for us. We have to make sure we learn from some of our mistakes."
Notes & quotes: Capuano said Cal Clutterbuck (leg laceration) could be ready to play by Tuesday's game against the Coyotes at the Coliseum. The Islanders will make a determination after Monday's practice.