The Islanders are fed up with practice.
They have played only three games in the first two weeks of the season, the last one on Monday. They play in Nashville Saturday, then have three more days off before a trip to the West Coast.
“I could tell today they were like, ‘Enough practicing, let's go play,’" Barry Trotz said Friday. “You start training camp, you get all the summer junk out of your game. It’s hard to go through that process and then you get into the rhythm. The rhythm in the National Hockey League. Play, practice, play, practice. It ’s a day off, play, practice. I'll say it's sometimes Groundhog Day 'cause you know what's happening for the next month in terms of the actual process of what you need to be doing. They’re just ready to play. Two, three days of practice, they just want to play."
Mathew Barzal said the team is not only anxious to play, but also to get away. “Just excited to get back on the road, we're playing some good teams so it'll be fun,’’ he said. “I think just being on the road, playing, going for dinners. At the hotel you're with each other a little bit more in a different atmosphere than the rink. So, it's just nice to get to know the guys. We've got some new faces here getting to know each other a lot better. Yeah, the road’s fun. We’ve been working hard in practice doing battle drills, I think come Saturday we'll be ready, we'll be back in fine form."
Robin Lehner will start in goal against Nashville. ”It's been a long week, nice to finally get a game," he said. “It's so early in the season I don't think anyone so far has got into a rhythm yet. We had a few days to work on our game a little bit, off a little next week and the schedule's going to get a little tighter."
Six of the next seven games are away. Trotz said a road victory is a treasured commodity. “Get a road win, sometimes they feel better than even a home win," he said. “You want to win your home games but the road wins always are a little more special in the sense that you get that feeling it's us against the world on the road a little bit, so that could be a really bonding effect."