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Isles fall ‘flat’ in pre-All-Star finale

Four-game points streak snapped in 4-2 loss to visiting Red Wings

January 26, 2016 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Islanders head coach Jack Capuano wasn’t reaching for excuses, but did indicate that his team may have been sluggish Monday night against Detroit due to its extended layoffs of late, including the huge snow storm that affected New York’s on-ice activities the past several days. AP photo
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These are the breaks Jack Capuano can do without.

After receiving a rare four-day reprieve from the ice earlier this month, not to mention a record-setting snow storm that curbed his team’s activities the past several days, the Islanders’ head coach didn’t seem overly enthused about the prospect of a full week off for the NHL’s annual All-Star break, especially following Monday night’s 4-2 home loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

“We’re a better team when we play more, but I’m not going to use anything as an excuse,” Capuano insisted following New York’s first regulation defeat since Jan. 9 in front of 12,086 fans at Downtown’s Barclays Center.

“We had more rest than we really wanted, but at the end of the day, it felt like we had our All-Star break last week,” he added.

Brock Nelson potted his team-high 19th goal off an assist from team captain John Tavares and Mikhail Grabovski added a tally late in the third period, but it wasn’t nearly enough as the Islanders (25-16-6, 56 points) dropped three points behind the second-place Rangers in the Metropolitan Division entering the break.

“We were flat,” Capuano confessed. “We’ve had a pretty good first half, it’s a tough division to be in. We’ve had a little inconsistency in certain parts of our game.”

Jaroslav Halak made 22 saves for New York, which will not return to action until Feb. 2 when it hosts the Minnesota Wild.

“There’s a lot of hockey [left],” Capuano noted, pointing to the Islanders’ tightly packed post All-Star break schedule. “It’s like we already had our All-Star break [from Jan. 17-22], and now we have it again.”

Tavares, who ranks second on the team with 16 goals and 34 points, reinforced his coach’s belief that the Isles were lagging in the energy department Monday night, but did indicate that another extended break may be necessary for a team that hopes to grab its first playoff series win since 1993 later this year.

“We were sluggish for a lot of it,” Tavares admitted. “You can use the break to get some rest. Crucial time of year with a lot of games. This is our last chance to get a rest and recover a little bit … Hopefully we can build on some of the good things before tonight.”

Nelson certainly had no complaints regarding his first half, falling one goal shy of his career best thus far this season while piling up 30 points.

“Hopefully we come back from the break rejuvenated and ready to go,” he said.


Isle Have Another: There was some very good news for the Islanders prior to Monday’s dreary defeat. Veteran D Johnny Boychuk, who has been out of action since suffering an upper-body injury during a 2-1 win in Buffalo on New Year’s Eve, could rejoin the squad following the All-Star break. Boychuk skated with the team Monday morning in Syosset, and Capuano seemed upbeat about the imminent return of one of his key blue-liners. “He’s been skating on his own the last couple of days,” Capuano revealed on the team’s website. “To see him back out there is a breath of fresh air and I’m sure [it is] for him to be around the guys and for us knowing that his time is not too far away … There’s a good chance that after the break here, hopefully sooner rather than later, we’ll get him back in the lineup.” 

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In other Barclays Center-related news, the arena announced Monday that it would be hosting its first-ever tennis event.

Former champions Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier and James Blake will compete in the “PowerShares QQQ Cup” in the 2016 PowerShares Series finale at 7 p.m. on Dec. 3.

Tennis has enjoyed a storied history in Brooklyn. The borough was host to the second-ever Davis Cup in August of 1902 at the Crescent Athletic Club and the U.S. Pro Tennis Championships were held at Brooklyn’s Terrace Club in 1935. 

“It will be an honor to be a part of the first-ever tennis event at such an impressive arena as Barclays Center,” said Roddick, the winner of the 2015 PowerShares Series points title. “I’ve always loved Brooklyn and can’t wait to get back there.”

“We are delighted to expand our sports portfolio by bringing professional tennis to Barclays Center for the first time,” said Brett Yormark, CEO of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment. “It’s particularly exciting to welcome our inaugural tennis event with some of the sport’s most legendary players.”

Ticket on-sale information for the event will be announced at a later date.


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