While some Islanders opted for rest and relaxation back in their hometowns of Minnesota, Ontario, or upstate New York, others jetted off to much more exotic locales such as Mexico, Anguilla, the Bahamas, and St. Barths.
Despite the diversity of their destinations for the Olympic break, however, there was one consistent and prevailing message upon their return to practice yesterday.
If the team wants to make the playoffs, they have some serious work ahead.
“Guys are getting back into the mindset pretty quickly because we know that we’re going to have to play some good hockey these last 20 games,” said Blake Comeau, who went with several teammates and their girlfriends to a resort outside of Cancun during the 9-day recess. “We want to make the playoffs and we know every game is going to matter.”
“We have to win," said Matt Moulson, who witnessed the Olympic festivities while visiting Vancouver during the break. "It’s pretty simple."
If that wasn’t already very apparent to the Islanders, who dropped nine of eleven games leading up to the break, it is now that a board with the Eastern Conference standings hangs on the threshold of the team dressing room.
With 20 games left before the end of the season, the Islanders are currently situated in 13th place. That said, they remain only six points out of the 8th spot, making a playoff push daunting, but at least viable.
“It was good to get away because when you get back it just makes you that much hungrier,” said Josh Bailey, who was among the group who vacationed in Mexico. “Obviously we have to play well above .500 these next twenty games if we want to make the playoffs.”
The next six weeks certainly won’t be a cakewalk, either. Beyond a taxing three-game trip out West during mid-March, the Islanders will be making their sprint to the finish line against two of the top teams in the league. In the last three games of the season, they play the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins twice and New Jersey at the Prudential Center.
“We know where we’re at and the opportunity that’s at stake,” said rookie John Tavares, who recharged back in his native Oakville, Ontario. "We know what we have to do. We have to go out, have some fun and play our game.”
Here's a breakdown of where some of the guys went for break:
-Rob Schremp, Frans Nielsen, Blake Comeau, Josh Bailey and Andrew MacDonald all went to Mexico (Pittsburgh Penguin Max Talbot went as well) to a resort about 45 minutes outside of Cancun
-Andy Sutton went to Anguilla and St. Barths
-Dwayne Roloson, US Virgin Isands
-Rick DiPietro, Bahamas
-Kyle Okposo (Minnesota), Bruno Gervais (Quebec), John Tavares (Oakville, Ontario) and Marty Biron (Buffalo, NY) went home to recharge the batteries.
-Jeff Tambellini and Matt Moulson both attended the Olympic games in Vancouver and even participated in a celebrity ball hockey tournament.