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Capuano On WFAN: Islanders Pride Themselves On Their Will To Compete At High Level

NEW YORK (WFAN) -- Jack Capuano's message is simple: We'll just worry about what we can control, thank you very much.

The Islanders' head coach told WFAN's Mike Francesa on Thursday that the fact that his team wasn't picked by many media types to win its first round playoff series against the Washington Capitals hasn't fazed him or his players one bit.

The games are played on the ice, and as evidenced by Game 1 on Wednesday night, the Islanders know exactly where to keep their focus.

"It's a good start for us, obviously," Capuano said of the Isles' 4-1 victory. "I think we are underdogs in this series. Not too many people gave us a chance, but, you know what? We got good goaltending, special teams were real good last night and it's going to have to continue for us to be successful."

MORE: Capellini: With An Effort Most Didn't Expect, Islanders Grew Up In A Hurry In Game 1

The Isles did all the things the analysts said they'd have a hard time doing. They shut down high-scoring Caps forward Alex Ovechkin and made Washington's stellar goaltender, Braden Holtby, look mortal.

"We believe that when we play a certain way we give ourselves a chance to beat anybody in the league," Capuano said.

With a win in Game 2 on Friday, the Isles would head home in complete control of this series. Capuano said he believes the Islanders' character can carry them a long way this postseason, regardless of the matchups.

"We are a confident group. Our personality is no different than our identity. We try to be a tough group to play against and have that, not arrogance or cockiness, but just that right attitude," Capuano said. "I told the guys from Day 1 in training camp – you don't have to have the best 20 players but you do have to have the right 20 players. I think we have assembled a group that has great reliability and trust in one another and they work. And that's the biggest thing. We're a structured team but at the end of the day it's about the will to compete at a high level and they have done that."

The Islanders' renaissance season -- which featured 101 points, their most since 1983-84 -- was accomplished against the backdrop of the closing of Nassau Coliseum, the team's only home in its 43-year existence. Capuano told Francesa he's proud of his players for not letting all the off-the-ice stuff become a distraction.

He also said the team has really responded to the outpouring of support that has rained down from the upper reaches of the "old barn" on a nightly basis.

"It is remarkable. I can tell you that we wanted to improve certain areas of our game, and the one thing for me is we wanted to have a better home record and we probably should have had four or five more wins at home, but we did improve it," Capuano said.

"Just coming back on those back-to-back nights and those games when we were down in the second and third period, to rebound had a lot to do with the fan base, and, obviously, the energy that was created in that building and we just fed off of it," he added.

Following Friday's game, the series will shift to Long Island for Game 3 on Sunday and Game 4 on Tuesday.

Capuano spoke about several other topics, including the leadership of captain John Tavares and how great Islanders teams of the past have inspired this season's group. To hear his complete interview with Francesa, please click on the audio link below.

Jack Capuano

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