12:30 pm, Iceworks: Islanders head coach Scott Gordon is extremely comfortable with the direction of his team.
Asked by a reporter after today’s optional practice about the differences between the Islanders and Saturday’s opponent, the New Jersey Devils, Gordon – while respecting the Devils’ championships and annual competitiveness – said it’s a case of apples and oranges.
“The Devils are re-tooling. We’re trying to rebuild with a master plan of winning a Stanley Cup,” said Gordon. “We’re not re-tooling. We’re still trying to find the tools.
“With all the changes in coaches and managers here, there hasn’t been a stretch of continuity. We haven’t deviated from the plan. Garth (Snow) hasn’t traded any players in a panic. We haven’t given up something that we’re going to miss.”
Gordon has seen improvement in the core of his team’s approach from last season to this season.
“I see a level of consistency,” said the coach. “The power play and the penalty kill…there’s no question we’ve got to get better. Five-on-five, we don’t give up a lot. With a young team that could use a lot of practice time, and in a year with a condensed scehdule where there hasn’t been much, I’ve been happy with what I see in our work.
“You have to remember, the roster didn’t change a whole lot – except for the goaltenders. Now, for me, it’s about finding a few missing pieces to fill in.”
Finally, Gordon was asked if the Eastern Conference standings board still hangs in the locker room like it did in mid-January, when the Islanders were still in the playoff hunt. Affirmative.
“Look at the standings and know what a lousy feeling it is,” said Gordon, referring to his players. “Remember this day.”