As the Islanders await their matchup against the West Conference-leading Golden Knights, they are only focused on their game out in Sin City.
The Islanders had a day off on Tuesday in Las Vegas, and though the city has its guilty pleasures, no one appeared to falter at practice on Wednesday. The team realizes they are going up against a great Golden Knights squad on their home ice, and being out of the playoff picture back East, they need to steal a win.
"Especially at hom, they've been virtually perfect," Cal Clutterbuck told Newsday's Arthur Staple. "Just another test for us. I don't think we'll do anything differently. The other stuff, there's lots going on but having three days here, you get that out of your system, go do what you're going to do and then from 11 today to game time is a regular road routine. Go for a good meal, hit the hay and give 'em hell tomorrow."
When Clutterbuck says the Golden Knights have been virtually perfect at home, he isn't kidding. They own at 19-2-2 record at T-Mobile Arena, and have shocked the NHL community in their first season as an expansion franchise. The secret to their success, according to head coach Doug Weight, is simply playing with pace and together throughout the 60 minutes.
"We have to be fast, disciplined and play a lot like they're playing, to be honest with you," Weight said. "They play like a lot of other teams, though they do play with a lot of pace and they're disciplined with their shift length. I tell you how you play against it: You emulate it. People are winning, you show your own guys that we want to do that."
The Islanders were in town to watch the Golden Knights beat up the Blues, 6-3, on their home ice, so they are well aware of what the team is capable of. As for captain John Tavares, he reiterated the fact that the team stayed away from the vices in Vegas as they are focused on upsetting the Golden Knights.
"Everyone's very aware of the importance of coming here, taking care of business on the ice as well as understanding things in the city, how they can lure away from having the right focus," he said. "I think everyone came to work today, had good focus and good preparation for tomorrow."
The Islanders are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games, while the Golden Knights hold a two-game win streak and are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games.