Barry Trotz has no doubts about his Islanders being ready for the playoffs.
The coach doesn’t think you should have any, either.
"I’m very confident," Trotz said after the Islanders collected just one of four possible points against the NHL-worst Sabres. "This group has given a lot. They’ve played 30 playoff games and, this year, it’s been like 50-some playoff games, it seems like. This group has invested a lot. For anybody to question their ability to not give it would be hurtful to them because this group gives a lot.
"This group, I have a lot of trust in and they’ve battled hard. I don’t think there should be any apology or anything like that. They’ll be ready. They’re a good group."
The Islanders, bound for the playoffs for a third straight season, open a two-game series against the Devils on Thursday night at Nassau Coliseum. The teams also play Saturday night at the Coliseum before the Islanders conclude the regular season Monday night in Boston.
These last two regular-season games at the Coliseum — provided the Islanders play all their home games next season at under-construction UBS Arena at Belmont Arena — will be the first opportunities for Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac to play their former team since being acquired on April 7.
The Islanders did not practice on Wednesday.
Monday’s 4-2 loss in Buffalo and a 4-3 shootout loss the following night likely ended the Islanders’ chances of having home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Islanders were coming off a 3-0 win over the Rangers at the Coliseum this past Saturday that clinched a playoff spot. They also won, 4-0, at Madison Square Garden on April 29 but, since April 6, the Islanders haven’t beaten anybody but the Rangers in regulation.
"It’s probably a little bit of a natural of a rollback of, ‘Hey, we got in and we’re going to breathe a little bit,’" Trotz said of the twin defeats in Buffalo. "While we’re breathing, we’re not as sharp as we should be. It’s an opportunity right now to get everybody some rest as best we can but keep all the pieces in order so that we can still play the game and still be fairly sharp when the live bullets come in another week to 10 days, whenever they want to start."
Is there big concern in Buffalo that the Islanders were twice unable to hold two-goal leads and also twice being unable to hold third-period leads?
"I don’t think it’s a big concern for us right now," defenseman Ryan Pulock said. "We need to clean it up and we’re going to do that. That’s kind of the strength of our team. When we do get up, we’re able to lock things down and we failed at that these last two games. We’ll look at that, we’ll clean that up and we’ll be ready."
The Islanders have won five of the first six games against the Devils this season.