Devils head coach Pete DeBoer espoused no panic and no changes Sunday afternoon prior to the Devils-Islanders matinee at the Nassau Coliseum.
DeBoer’s Devils entered the game having lost four in a row (0-1-3). The overriding element of the slide has been an inability to keep the puck out of their own net, as the Devils have been outscored 16-9.
“We have to get back to playing to our identity. Having said that — rough patch, we didn’t play a good game in Pittsburgh. The Islander game at home we did some good stuff,” DeBoer said. “Boston might have been our best game, two games ago.
“You have to put in perspective. We didn’t play well in [Pittsburgh]; we made it easy on them. I’m confident we’re going to rebound with a good effort tonight.”
Isles off to hot start
The Islanders entered yesterday’s match with a 4-2-1 mark, good for second in the Atlantic Division and sixth overall in the Eastern Conference.
Islanders head coach Jack Capuano attributed the strong start to increased leadership in the dressing room.
“We have some guys who have been around now. They have to take ownership. We’re going to hold them accountable as coaches but within that room, there has to be accountability,” Capuano said.
He subsequently pointed to the defense pairing of Travis Hamonic and Andrew MacDonald, along with center Frans Nielsen and LW Eric Boulton, as players who have become leaders.
“We have some guys who don’t have the letter on their sweater but either it’s a big play — faceoff, blocked shot — doing the right things at the right times or being vocal,” Capuano said.
MacDonald (27:49) and Hamonic (24:46) lead the Islanders in ice-time per game averages this season. Captain Mark Streit is third at 24:42. Capuano acknowledged concern about the discrepancy in minutes between the top three defenders and the third pairing of Matt Carkner (12:10) and Thomas Hickey (11:04).
“We didn’t see our ‘D’ corps this summer moving into this season where it is right now, obviously. A couple different circumstances,” Capuano said, hinting subtly at the Lubomir Visnovsky saga.
» The Devils called up RW Bobby Butler from AHL Albany Saturday night, and he skated on the fourth line with Jacob Josefson and Krystofer Barch.
» LW Stefan Matteau and defensemen Peter Harrold and Henrik Tallinder were scratched. Matteau has been a scratched the last three games after playing the first five games of the season. Should the 29th-overall pick play a sixth game this season, he will be ineligible to be sent down to Blainville-Boisbriand of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
“Talk to Lou,” DeBoer said when asked if the organization was thinking about sending Matteau down or keeping him for the remainder of the year.
Follow NHL beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.