New York Islanders 'Roll': Improvement will be tested on 4-game road trip

"Wait, all we gotta do is pull this one out and we're rolling?" - Bruce Bennett

If there is any actual "roll" here, it's in how they're playing rather than a measly two wins in a row.

It's odd that the Islanders are seen as being "on a roll" or "finding consistency" or even "surging" after just two -- count 'em -- two wins in a row, one of them via shootout and with two regulation losses preceding them to close out a disappointing October.

That "roll" will be tested as the Islanders head out on a four-game road trip through Washington, Carolina and concluding with a back-to-back this weekend in Columbus and Montreal.

The wins over Ottawa and Boston were the first consecutive victories of the season, a low standard for surging. But they did seem to find their game over the last three contests, outshooting opponents 115-82 over that time and finally appearing to return to the crisp game that characterized the end of last season.

What's up?

A Reuters overview (the "on a roll" link above) after the win over the Bruins has Capuano saying...

"To me, it's about the details and we've addressed that over the last couple weeks. (We're) starting to see it now and that's what we want moving forward."

...which, to me, means more short, precise passes in their own zone to speed up their breakout, and better coordination in the other two zones to sustain some attacks and enable shots on the other net. The defense also fancies itself improved, or at least figuring out to get by without Lubomir Visnovsky.

What seems clear is how the Islanders executed in the last few games is their "perfect world, in the laboratory" version, that "certain way we need to play" that Jack Capuano so often cites. Or John Tavares, quoted in Newsday after the win:

"It's the first couple games all year that we played the way we wanted to play."

[...]

"That was really like it was at times last year," Tavares said. "I liked the way we came out and the way we played against a good hockey team."

The reason people have expectations for this team is that its "way we wanted to play" version can indeed put good teams back on their heels, whether it's a playoff series in May or a regular season game in November.

But we'll see. Two wins, three solid games is nothing, just like one month is but a snapshot, and the Islanders' 12 October games which had some fans panicking were nothing but a taste of many directions this season can take. Even with the best intentions and best execution, however, injuries and any other number of variables can get in the way.

But we're not gonna talk about the goaltending.

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