A little playoff talk ....
“I’ve been very impressed with the guys here who have the skill level,” said defenseman Steve Staios, the 15-year NHL veteran signed by the Islanders on Friday after arriving at pre-season camp on a tryout basis. “It’s throughout the league: Young guys have a great skill level. These guys have a work ethic that goes with it. They pay attention to details seem willing to do the things necessary to win. You can’t win strictly on skill. You see guys here working hard away from the puck. That’s a good first step.
“As far as making the playoffs, you can’t make the playoffs today or tomorrow. But you can definitely take steps toward it. You’re going to have ups and downs through the year. I think that’s where maybe I can help out. We have to keep as consistent as possible. It’s inevitable you go through down periods when the team is not playing well. If we can shorten those times, those points of the season are very critical. It’s a grind, it’s a long season. Hopefully, guys can lean on me during that time and I can lend leadership and experiece during those times.
“It’s easy for a guy with this type of skill set — we have six or seven guys here that have that skill set — that can come in and say, ‘OK, I didn’t get my points tonight, I'll get ‘em tomorrow night.’ But the mindset seems to be different here.
“I haven't been here very long and it’s easier at the begining of the season. It’s harder when things get tough, so definitlely we’ll have to push each other to get through those times and make sure we have things we can key on that we beleive we can win with — and do those every night.”
A little talk about youth ....
“They’re young,” coach Jack Capuano said of the core of his team. “But we went through that rebuilding. They got an opportnity at an early age to play in the National Hockey League. So, for me, they have to step to the plate now. They can’t look back. They have to understand that the chance they were given, it’s over now. They have to win hockey games, help us win hockey games. Hopefully they’ll have that attitude and that confidence because that’s the way they need to play.”
And, with rookie prospect Nino Neiderreiter already on the injured list with a groin injury, apparently preventing him from opening the season on the No. 1 line with John Tavares and Matt Moulson, Capuano sympathized. “I thought Nino was playing extremely well right up until those exhibition games,” Capuano said. “It’s just unfortunate, especially for him, as a young guy who had a chance — maybe still has a chance, I don’t know — but obviously the injury set him back a little bit.”
As for injury problems in general, Capuano said, “Last year we went thorugh it, and other guys got an opportunity or we wouldn’t have seen some of the guys we did. But I’m not even talking injury this year. We have to win games. There’s no excuses. It’s not even in our vocabulary right now.