The playoffs are nearly out of reach for the Islanders, but Doug Weight, calling himself still a “work in progress” as a coach, is confident in the direction the organization is heading.
“It’s really hard between patience and acceptance,” he said Thursday. “I really believe in this franchise. We’re still going in a good direction. It’s hard for everybody to understand that, but I believe in it and I believe in the process we’re going through.”
Weight, 47, replaced the fired Jack Capuano on Jan. 17, 2017 and has a 54-42-14 career record.
“You’re always learning,” he said. “You don’t want to turn your cheek to it and say, ‘We had injuries, we didn’t have this in the beginning.’ Those are always going to be there. Every team has that. You still have to face it and get better from it, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Back to Halak?
Goalie Jaroslav Halak is likely to start Friday night at Washington, but Weight wouldn’t rule out Christopher Gibson getting a fourth straight start. “At this time of the year, you can’t take anything off the table,” he said.
Nikolay Kulemin, out since undergoing shoulder surgery on Nov. 13, may be within a week of taking a full practice. The 31-year-old forward, an impending unrestricted free agent, accompanied the team on its recent road trip and has started to take contact on the ice.
“It’s time-sensitive now for the doctors,” Weight said. “They want to make sure he’s 100 percent. I would say he’s really close to starting to practice with us.”
Forward Alan Quine (lower body) missed his seventh game but skated toward the end of Thursday’s optional morning skate. Forward Scott Eansor, 22, who has 16 goals and six assists in 57 games for Bridgeport (AHL), agreed to a two-year, two-way contract.