The Islanders have seen the last of the Western Conference in their building, which is a shame. After Thursday’s 5-2 win over the Kings, the Isles finished 12-0-2 at Barclays Center against the West.
So now the real home stretch begins, where the Isles have to face the Eastern Conference opponents they’re trying to beat out for a playoff. And the numbers aren’t quite so pretty.
Saturday’s game in Raleigh against the Hurricanes begins a stretch of five straight against Eastern opponents and the Islanders sport a very pedestrian 14-14-4 record in their own conference this season.
Worse still is the 3-8-1 record against the other seven East teams currently in playoff position. Carolina sits tied for 11th, but the Isles host the Red Wings on Monday and the Capitals on Thursday, teams that have two regulation wins apiece over the Isles this season.
“We’ve got to be better against those teams, especially the ones in our division,” Frans Nielsen said. “To be fair, though, I think the last time we played Washington (a 3-2 loss on Feb. 4), that was one of our best games of the season. It was still a loss though, so we have to find ways to get points against the better teams.”
Thursday’s win was a step in the right direction, just the fourth win over a current playoff-position team in 11 games since mid-December. Jack Capuano was still concerned on Friday about the way his Islanders played against Los Angeles — Jhonas Enroth’s shaky goaltending early had more to do with the Isles win, Capuano felt, than any great performance from his own club.
“We showed some video today and yeah, I thought we played a solid game, but we have to manage the puck better than we did,” Capuano said after practice at IceWorks, just before the team traveled to Raleigh. “You can’t do that against the teams in this league.”
Notes & quotes: The Hurricanes will hold a weekend celebration of their 2006 Stanley Cup team, a squad that included Islanders assistant GM/coach Doug Weight. Weight was a trade deadline acquisition from St. Louis and won his only Cup that spring. Two current Hurricanes still remain: captain Eric Staal and goaltender Cam Ward.