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Islanders hold intrasquad scrimmage while awaiting second round

The Islanders divided into Blue and White squads near the end of Tuesday's practice.

Ross Johnston of the Islanders, left, and teammate

Ross Johnston of the Islanders, left, and teammate Anders Lee scrimmage against one another during practice at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow on Tuesday. Photo Credit: James Escher

The Islanders actually played hockey on Tuesday.

Sort of.

They held a short, intrasquad scrimmage at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow as the Islanders’ wait to start their second-round playoff series against either the Capitals or Hurricanes reached the one-week mark.

Even skating against teammates in game-like conditions seemed a refuge from a fourth practice since the Islanders completed their four-game sweep of the Penguins on April 16.

“We couldn’t scrimmage very long because our farm team is still playing,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said of Bridgeport, which is in its first-round AHL playoff series. “If you just have two lines [per squad], it lasts about 10 minutes.

“The good thing is, they’re going to let us play pretty soon,” Trotz added. “The guys were enthused.”

The Islanders divided into Blue and White squads with goalies Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss each manning a net toward the end of Tuesday’s practice. After about 10 minutes of five-on-five play, the Islanders then spent about another 10 minutes on a special teams’ scrimmage.

The Blue Jackets, who swept the Lightning in the first round, held an intrasquad scrimmage on Monday with two, 30-minute periods of running time that attracted a crowd of 5,500 to Nationwide Arena.

Center of attention

Trotz coached the Capitals to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup last season before joining the Islanders and was asked on Tuesday whether he was pulling for either his former team or the Hurricanes in their series.

“Honestly, I just want to play, I don’t have a preference,” Trotz said.

However, Trotz is well aware of how he will become a prominent storyline if the Islanders face the Capitals. That’s especially true after he addressed his former team in the visitor’s dressing room at Barclays Center on Nov. 26 and assured them they could repeat as Cup champions but, to do so, would have to beat the Islanders.

“I know if we have one, there’s going to be a lot more questions toward me,” Trotz said.

It was then pointed out to Trotz that some coaches will deliberately make themselves the center of attention to shield their players.

“Some coaches want that,” Trotz said. “I don’t want any attention on me, personally. I think it’s situational. Especially in certain markets, there’s pressure on certain players where a coach can grasp that attention away from the target. I think our players are fine. We’re in a good place.”

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