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New York Islanders

Islanders Chasing Hurricanes Standard And System

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AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker

EAST MEADOW, NY– As the New York Islanders welcome the Carolina Hurricanes to UBS Arena tonight, they do so looking up in the standings at their Metropolitan Division rival.

A team known for its active defense and highly aggressive forecheck, the Hurricanes have made the playoffs each of the last five years and are well on their way to extending that streak to six this season.

With just 15 games remaining on their schedule, it’s unlikely the Islanders will close the 17-point gap that currently separates them and the Hurricanes in the division. Even still, head coach Patrick Roy is trying to instill the style of play that’s made Carolina a perennial playoff contender in the Islanders.

“They would be the pinnacle and the extreme of defense being involved up in the play, and we’ve kind of instilled that a little more since the [coaching] change,” Noah Dobson told Hockey Now Tuesday morning. “They just play, and they bring it every night. They’re in your face. There’s not a lot of time and space, and it’s high pressure. They play a good system, and they all play it very well.”

The system the Hurricanes have mastered and that the Islanders are trying to replicate revolves around possession. Simply put, it’s about maintaining control of the puck and keeping it away from the opponent.

Carolina is able to do just that with a quick and mobile defense that’s adept at slowing down the opponent’s forecheck and limiting their time in the attacking end by employing fluid breakouts.

“You got to be in [forwards’] face, and you got to be on your toes,” Dobson said. “The more time and space you give the forwards, especially these days because everyone’s so good, they’re going to make plays, and they’re going to find a way through.”

In turn, the Hurricanes typically dictate the flow and tempo of their games. More often than not, they have the advantage in shots on goal and have consistently fallen within the league’s top 10 in shots for per game each of the last seven years.

“They compete every night,” Jean-Gabriel Pageau said of the Hurricanes. “I think that’s what makes it hard. When you’re playing the Hurricanes, you know they’re going to work hard. If you want to have a chance, you need to outwork them.”

The Hurricanes have used their current system for some time now, but it truly solidified when Rod Brind’Amour was hired behind the bench in Carolina ahead of the 2017-18 season.

Like Roy, Brind’Amour was a fierce competitor during his playing days. In their time as head coaches, their teams have been known to take on their personalities.

“They just bring passion and a love for the game,” Dobson said. “I think it’s two guys that had unbelievable careers as players. It’s the same passion, energy and fire that they probably played with. They’re still coming to the rink every day, so as players, that can definitely be contagious.”

The difference between Roy and Brind’Amour, or more so their teams, has been consistency.

As mentioned, the Hurricanes have regularly finished near the top of the Eastern Conference and will do so once again this year. Meanwhile, the Islanders have routinely taken two steps forward and one step back.

“It starts in practice,” Pageau said. “The battle level, the drills, guys are pushing each other. It’s not just going out there for a flow. You go at your best, and you do one-on-one drills. The defenseman is not letting you go to the net, and you’re trying to go to the net. That battle level is what I think brings the work ethic higher.”

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