from Arthur Staple of Newsday,
It's hard to identify the point this season when the Islanders shed their fragile reputation. There were fits and starts throughout the season, but a three-game losing streak at home last month, all games in which the Islanders led in the second or third periods, seemed to reinforce the feeling that this team was not quite ready to make the leap to respectability.
But since those three losses -- to sure-fire playoff teams in the Penguins and Canadiens, and another to the Senators, who are tied with the Islanders with 44 points -- they have shored up their play late in games, turning from a team fearful of blowing it to a team that can up its play as the minutes wind down.
"I think we've built up a foundation here," Matt Carkner said after the Islanders' latest win, 4-1, over the Flyers on Tuesday. "You do the right things over and over, you're going to build confidence. Consistency was our biggest problem before, and now we have something ...