John Tavares plans to work hard during the off-season to continue his development.
"I just don't want to stop here. I want to keep getting better," he said after the Islanders were eliminated from the playoffs in the opening round by Pittsburgh. "It's my goal to help this team win a Stanley Cup and if I can improve myself in any way, that's what I'm going to do." Any success the team enjoys in the years to come will probably be directly impacted by the play of Tavares, who proved his worth this year by being selected as a Hart Trophy finalist.
Frans Nielsen said that the Islanders need to make sure that their improvements carry over into next year.
"We've got to realize that what we did down the stretch this year, we have to do it from Day 1 next year and we've got to do it for 82 games," he said Tuesday morning. "It only gets tougher from here. Teams are going to be even more prepared for us." Making the playoffs is a great accomplishment, but it has to be earned each year and the Islanders will need to stay consistent for longer stretches to make sure they remain as a team on the rise.
Islanders general manager Garth Snow doesn't expect his team to be much different next season.
The Isles have a solid core, and he's very happy with it. "I don't think there will be too many changes," Snow said. "We want to continue down the road we started. We're just as excited about the prospects we have as the team that played this season. We've had some really good drafts and we have a prospect pool we like, not just some of the players at Bridgeport. It bodes well for the future." The team will continue to build from within but will keep an open mind with regards to trades and free agency.
If the New York Islanders needed reassurance about their abilities, they got them from the Pittsburgh Penguins after they were eliminated from the playoffs in overtime Saturday night.
"Going through the [handshake] line, hearing what some of their guys said . . . 'You guys are a good team,'" Islanders forward Colin McDonald said. "I don't think a lot of guys around here have heard that in a while."
Jack Capuano is feeling proud as the coach of the New York Islanders, who were eliminated from the playoffs Saturday night after the Pittsburgh Penguins beat them 4-3 in overtime.
"We took some big strides as an organization," Capuano said. "Not many people gave us a chance to do some of the things we did. Anybody that watched the games, that saw the crowd . . . I'm sure we've got some respect around the league right now."
Updating a previous note, Casey Cizikas (mouth) has returned to the game.
Great news. Cizikas was caught by a Simon Despres skate in the chin/mouth area and presumably went to the locker room to get stitched up. He has two goals and a helper in the series.
Evgeni Nabokov kicked aside 17 of 21 shots as the Islanders were eliminated from the playoffs after their 4-3 overtime loss against the Penguins on Saturday night.
Facing a very dangerous offense in this series, Nabokov really was not very good, finishing with a 4.44 goals-against average and .842 save percentage in the playoffs. One could only imagine how the Islanders would've fared -- with the Pens clearly ripe for the taking -- had Nabokov even replicated his regular-season rates of a 2.50 goals-against average and .910 save percentage. Re-signing Nabokov isn't a terrible idea, but it's clear the Islanders need to go out and upgrade at goaltender in order to help them take the next step.