The New York Islanders got off to a slow start last season and, despite a strong second half that followed a midyear coaching change, finished a point out of a playoff spot.
Now, Doug Weight has promised a hard camp as he heads into his first full season at the helm, hoping that will help the team get off to a better start.
“We know camp is going to be tough,” forward Casey Cizikas said. “Dougie’s been telling us that from the get go. … We gave away a lot of games last year where we could have got points and that’s what kind of impaired us at the end.”
The Islanders had just six wins in their first 20 games, and had stretches of improved play but struggled with consistency when Weight replaced Jack Capuano on Jan. 17 with the team last in the Eastern Conference at 17-17-8. The Islanders closed the season with six straight wins to finish 24-12-4 under Weight, who was hired on a permanent basis days after the season ended.
Missing the postseason by a point after the slow start stuck with the players in the offseason and many pointed to it as a motivating force.
“You think about it all summer,” veteran defenseman Johnny Boychuk said. “Our start last year, it was terrible and we know that, and that’s why we weren’t in the playoffs.”
Captain John Tavares was looking forward to a full training camp after missing out last year while helping Canada win the World Cup of Hockey. With the departure of several longtime teammates and the…