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Thursday, December 8th, 2016

New York Islanders hope to turn season around with new coach

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The New York Islanders started the 2010-11 NHL season off well enough but then things fell apart very quickly. The club got off to a 4-1-2 start and then lost 10 in a row before management decided enough was enough and the axe fell on third-year coach Scott Gordon. He was replaced by Jack Capuano, who told the team it was time for a fresh start. And it looks like they’ll need it if they hope to catch up some lost ground and make the playoffs.

The Islanders are in last place in the Eastern Conference as of Nov. 19th with a 4-11-3 record after 18 games, good for just 11 points. They’re only one point behind New Jersey, but eight back of Ottawa and the last playoff spot.

Capuano was already in the Islanders system as he was the coach of the club’s American Hockey League affiliate in Bridgeport. He’s been named as the team’s interim coach as he hasn’t discussed the long term with Garth Snow, the team’s general manager as of yet. He’s comfortable with most of the players as he’s coached many of them in the minors and knows their strengths and weaknesses as well as their personalities. He also has been an assistant coach with the Islanders in the past and hopes that familiarity will speed things up.

The biggest problem the club is facing so far is putting the puck in the net. This is obvious after scoring only eight goals in the past eight games. However, it’s hard to teach players how to score goals. Capuano witnessed this in his coaching debut with New York on Nov. 17th as they dropped a 4-2 decision at home to Tampa Bay.

But Capuano said he’s not planning on making any major roster moves at the moment as he wants to study the team in action to decide what aspects of their game needs changing. He’d like to work things out with the current roster to see if they can turn the season around soon. He wants to keep things simple and get some players in front of the opposition’s net and keep working hard.

The new coach isn’t looking for pretty goals from his players; he just wants bodies and pucks to go to the net to see if they get some breaks off of bodies or feet, etc. Gordon didn’t have much luck with the team as he finished 30th and 26th place overall in the standings during his first two years in a 30-team league, so there’s not really anywhere for Capuano to go but up.

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