DENVER - Jack Capuano cautioned, in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Jets at the Coliseum, that the Islanders need to be smarter with the puck.
"It's going to be a long road trip if we don't figure it out quick," Capuano said.
Frankly, it could be that way regardless.
The five-game swing that begins here Thursday night against the Avalanche features stops in some places the Islanders have not done well over recent seasons. The histories are erratic, owing to the unbalanced schedule the NHL played before the most recent lockout, but now the Isles visit every team at least once.
The first stop has the best numbers: The Islanders are 3-0-2 in Denver since 2003-04. But after Thursday, it's off to San Jose (2-5-1 since 2000-01), Anaheim (0-3-1 since 2006-07), Los Angeles (0-4-0 since 2002-03) and Arizona, formerly known as Phoenix (1-4-0 since 2003-04).
The calendar is also inching toward November, which has been the cruelest month for the Islanders in recent seasons. They went 4-10-1 last November, then came out west to play the California teams plus the Coyotes; that 1-4-0 trip effectively ended their season.
The fact remains that the Islanders have had a much brighter October than they've had recently. Despite Tuesday's loss and their penchant for giving up too many goals, the Isles bring a 6-3-0 record here and this was always going to be a grueling trip.
So they are in better shape coming out west than they've been in a while. How they look coming back is the bigger question.
Notes & quotes: The NHL declined further punishment for Nikolay Kulemin for his boarding major and game misconduct in the second period on Tuesday . . . Travis Hamonic (upper body) practiced in a no-contact jersey Wednesday. Both he and Josh Bailey (broken hand) accompanied the Isles on the trip. Hamonic is still unlikely to play Thursday night and Bailey is still going to miss most, if not all, of the trip but will be able to skate and test his hand.