“You’re not going to go 16-0 in the playoffs,” said Jordan Eberle, following the Islanders practice between Games 1 and 2. “I don’t think anyone expected that. Now, it’s our first little bump and like I’ve said, with the character in this group, we need to respond.”
While some may paint that as a glass half-empty view after the Islanders’ first loss in five playoff games, many of Eberle’s teammates felt the same way. But they’re not letting that get them down.
“Yesterday we didn’t quite execute the way we wanted to,” explained Devon Toews. “And that’s just a little unfortunate for us. We’re all committed to helping this team win and doing the individual and little things that we need to do. It just didn’t work out for us yesterday, but we know that if we stay committed to our process things will work out.”
During the Islanders Game 1 loss to Carolina Friday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, both teams played a fairly strong and even game, with neither side having much to regret. But now that the Hurricanes hold a one-game series lead, the Isles feel they can’t afford to drop another game, especially not at home.
“We’re just going to have to go out and earn it,” said Head Coach Barry Trotz, who then echoed Eberle’s sentiment about not going 16-0 in the playoffs.
And while it’s true nobody expected them to even come close to going 16-0, it speaks volumes about the character of the team that it was even a thought in their minds. So it’s no wonder that Eberle essentially called Game 2 a “Must-Win Game.”
This Islanders team is very different from years past and that’s largely due to the dynamic created by the duo of Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz.
“He (Trotz) doesn’t yell a lot,” said Eberle. “He’s just really even-keeled.”
And it’s Trotz’s even-keeled nature which has allowed this team to grow into the determined group we now see.
As for Game 2 on Sunday (also in Brooklyn), Trotz isn’t going to push the panic button. “We’re going to try to repair a couple of things, but there’s not going to be wholesale changes.”
So, between Trotz’s level-headed temperament and the Isles players’ desire to avoid an 0-2 series hole, there is a sense of determination around the team, which will likely serve it well come game time on Sunday afternoon.