The New York Islanders and Jack Capuano are well aware a they need to go deep into the NHL playoffs. An early exit may send Capuano packing.
The New York Islanders currently are in a deadlock with the Pittsburgh Penguins at 95 points for the second seed in the Metropolitan division. The Islanders played themselves out of the top spot and into a pretty tight playoff race.
Disappointing, absolutely, just a few weeks back Islander fans had the salty taste of a division title and now find themselves peaking in the review mirror as they jockey for position.
The squeeze is on and the Isles must respond now to the challenges ahead. With that said, Islander fans will not and should accept just a playoff berth as a step forward. This season is and has been magical, especially the simple fact that this is the last year playing in the Nassau Coliseum. The team must get out of the first round or this season will be considered a failure.
Honestly anything short of an Eastern Conference series fans are going to deem unacceptable. With the way the Isles had played at lasting stretches this season they have proven that they are not the underdogs, that they can be looked at as the team to beat.
Coach Jack Capuano does not have to be told that a first round elimination can see him and possibly the rest of his staff sent packing. This team is young, but there is enough veteran presence and talent for the coaches to get the players going and reignite that spark. Capuano on occasion can get in his own way by over coaching. During this past spiral the Isles were not responsive to some of the coaches line changes and his taking players in and out of the lineup.
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Calvin de Haan had no issue voicing his opinion when he was pulled from for a night’s rest. Capuano is a players coach, I do not think that “threatening, Mike Keenan style” will have the effect he is looking for. A few coolers tossed can get the boys attention. The players respect and will run through walls for their coach. What needs to be laid out is they can lose their coach if the season ends after round one.
The Islanders have not won a playoff series since the sweet run in 1993 where they were finally taken down by the Montreal Canadians in the Eastern Conference Finals. Capuano and Co. are looking for the same success and then some. When this Islander team was firing on all cylinders this season they looked as if they could be the best team in the East and at times the league.
The past couple of weeks the Isles were in a uncharacteristic scoring drought that aided the recent fall from the top seed in the Metro. With hope, this win against the Detroit Red Wings may have brought back the needed confidence in finding the back of the net. With five games left in the regular season the Islanders must get hot now.
If their playoff showing emulates anything like the month of March, not only will the club be playing in a new building, they may just be playing for a new coach.