UNIONDALE, N.Y — A day after the Isles fell to the Pens 5-4 in overtime, some of the team was back on the ice.
Today was an optional practice for the team, and while many decided to use that option, several others laced up the skates. Brad Boyes. Casey Cizikas, Mark Streit, Travis Hamonic and Evgeni Nabokov were on the ice for practice. They were joined by the teams healthy scratches.
Okposo Still Talk of Team After Two Strong Performances
People are still talking about the strong play of Kyle Okposo after two big games against the Penguins.
The 25-year-old winger was met by a swarm of media in the locker room after practice, though he himself did not skate on the ice like many of his teammates. Through three games in the playoffs, Okposo has two goals and an assist for three points. His strong play has propelled his team, but ask if any of his teammates are surprised by his play they’ll say no.
“Kyle is one of our leaders and I think we’ve known for years his potential,” John Tavares said. “Especially my first year here he was really our go to guy. Obviously the injury hurt him a little bit and trying to get his game back after the shoulder surgery. It’s great to see him hit his stride again and this is what we expected from him. I’m not surprised at all.”
Josh Bailey added: “It’s been incredible. I think he’s played so hard, with so much determination, and he’s certainly been a huge leader for us out there.”
Nassau Coliseum is Loud
The media and players were still talking about the atmosphere in game 3 a day after the game.
While old and dilapidated, the Coliseum is still one of the best venues for playoff hockey. The building was sold out and as you can clearly see in the video above it was as loud as ever.
“It was obviously one of the loudest rinks I’ve ever been in,” Travis Hamonic said about the barn on Hempstead Turnpike. “Actually at the end of the national anthem my ears were hurting a little bit from all the craziness. I remember the first couple of shifts me and A-Mac were basically yelling at the top of our lungs each other, but we expect the same atmosphere for Tuesday night.”
Casey Cizikas also took note as to how loud the Coliseum was.
“I remember standing out in the hallway before the game, where I usually stand before we out, and I could hear them chanting and stuff like that. Walking out on that passage to jump on the ice I got chills down my back. They’ve been supporting us all year and last night they brought it to a whole new level. We feed off that,” he said.
Casey Cizikas Talks About His First Playoff Goal
In just the third playoff game of his career, and 5:31 into it, Casey Cizikas netted his first postseason goal.
“It was all [Grabner] who set it up,” Cizikas said after practice. “Great forechecking knocked the puck out of the air and he found me in that sweet spot. I just tried to get it off as good as possible and luckily it went in. The excitement that went through me and everything like is just something I’ll remember and it’s going to be hard to repeat.”
Cizikas was slow to initially react to the fact that he scored, and admitted he wasn’t quit sure what happened.
“I wasn’t really too sure if it went off their guy and in or if went straight in,” he said smiling. “I really didn’t know what happened there. When I saw the crowd behind the net jump up my eyes lit up. It was pretty exciting.”
Pens Realize No Series is Easy
The Islanders have surprised a lot of people outside of Long Island. Two hard fought games have made them into believers.
Historically the playoffs are never easy, no matter what seed a team is. That is something pens defenseman Paul Martin mentioned after the Penguins practice.
“You can’t take any team for granted and you make it to the playoffs for a reasonAfter the Penguins’ practice he was asked about the Islanders strong five on five play,” he said. “You look at last year…anything can happen. No matter how good your teams are it just comes down to being able to execute and play in the playoffs. I don’t think it’s ever going to be an easy game or series. So we have to stick with that.”
The Islanders have been strong five on five and Dan Byslma explained what he thinks has made them so good.
“I give them credit they’re a team that has speed throughout their lineup,” he said. “They play, more than just their skating, the quickness, they execute is a big part of it. I would say our execution points need to be better and we need to adjust where we are executing so that we don’t give them as many turnovers or mismanaged pucks in the neutral zone. Some of those aren’t turnovers. You chip a puck out, they turn around and come right back at you.”