Barry Trotz knows exactly what it takes to build a Stanley Cup champion.
So, a day after his former team, the defending champion Capitals, beat his new team, the Islanders, 4-1, at Barclays Center on Monday night, Trotz had a clear picture of the work ahead.
“We’re headed in the right direction,” Trotz said before giving his tired team, which just completed a stretch of four games in six days, a day off on Tuesday. “We’re trending in the right direction from a total hockey standpoint, from the people running it, such as Lou [Lamoriello], and the infrastructure behind that.
“There’s some good things happening for us but it’s not going to be easy,” Trotz added. “Winning is not easy. There’s an investment that has to be made night in and night out. We have a lot of stuff to learn yet and we’re still in that process.”
The Islanders (12-9-2) play at Boston on Thursday night before hosting the Blue Jackets on Saturday night in the first regular-season game at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum since 2015. They find themselves in the middle of a tight Metropolitan Division race.
They have missed the playoffs the past two seasons and won just one postseason series since 1993.
Trotz said he sees similarities between what he inherited in Washington in 2014 and this Islanders squad, specifically in the mixture of young talent and veteran leaders.
He already has improved their defensive effort after the Islanders allowed an NHL-worst 293 goals last season. But the Islanders still must improve their power-play efficiency and have more full 60-minute efforts rather than only pockets in games that sink their chances.
“What we want as a group is to be consistent and be professional in our approach every game and play the right way so we have a chance to win every game,” said Trotz, who, along with Islanders associate coach Lane Lambert and director of goaltending Mitch Korn, received his Cup ring from the Capitals prior to Monday night’s game.
“Sometimes you get blinded by results rather than the process,” Trotz added. “Were we good [Monday]? The first period, not so much. The rest of the game we were OK. We’ve got to fix some things on special teams. If we can do that, that’s another element because we’ve been doing it five-on-five and on the penalty kill.”
The Islanders went 0-for-4 with six shots on the power play against the Capitals and are 0-for-11 over their last five games. The Islanders’ 12-for-74 power play (16.2 percent) is ranked 24th in the NHL.
“A couple of them, we had trouble getting in the zone,” captain Anders Lee said. “It looks brutal and it’s frustrating to watch but we had some good chances [Monday] for sure.”