Jack Capuano was visibly fuming for the first time in 32 games since replacing Scott Gordon as coach of the Islanders.

“It’s the National Hockey League. If [the players] don’t respond in certain ways, then we will have to put guys on the ice that will. I thought tonight that there were guys that were selfish for the first time,” Capuano said following the Islanders’ 4-2 home loss to the Carolina Hurricanes to close out the first half last week.

“When you get back [from the All-Star break], there could be different line changes, different lineups. We’re not going to continue to go through losing games and guys getting rewarded that maybe shouldn’t get rewarded.”

Capuano’s ominous going-away message capped a first half that has been an odd mixture of off-ice controversy and an under-talented team that works hard but rarely wins. The Islanders’ 15 wins are tied with Edmonton for fewest in the league.

“We talk about it all the time. We need to play with more desperation,” goalie Rick DiPietro said. “To get out of this hole and have any chance to make the playoffs, we need to start winning.”

As much as DiPietro may truly believe his team has an opportunity to participate in the playoffs, the numbers indicate otherwise. The Islanders have earned just 37 points in 49 games. Only the Devils have fewer, with 35.

It’s clear the Islanders’ young talent still isn’t fully matured. John Tavares is improving, but he’s still not an elite lethal threat; and once-promising center and ninth overall pick in the 2008 NHL?draft Josh Bailey was demoted after 149 NHL?games.

Putting a playoff run in perspective

If the Islanders are to reach the playoffs, they will likely need to win 27 of their remaining 33 games and hope that at least six teams collapse in front of them. Snooki has a better shot at an winning Oscar.

There may be options in the trade market, with Dallas reportedly ready to deal All-Star center Brad Richards, but Islanders GM Garth Snow is reluctant to trade any prospects.