The fact of the matter is that for the Islanders to achieve definitive progress they will need to do something the franchise hasn’t done in more than two decades.

With their season opening Friday night in Newark against a Devils team that played Thursday night in Pittsburgh the Islanders will begin to try to back up last season’s revitalizing run to the playoffs. It was on May 11 when the Penguins ousted them with a Game 6 overtime loss on the Coliseum ice and it kept the season of 1993 as the most recent time the Islanders won a playoff series.

“You definitely have to earn everything you get to get back to the playoffs” newly minted captain John Tavares said on Thursday sitting in the same back-left corner of the dressing room where 146 days prior he stated that a first-round loss was not even close to his satisfaction. “Just because we were there doesn’t mean we’re going to get back in. We have a lot of work ahead of us.”
Work indeed.

Tavares admitted that in his previous lockout-shortened season his team played well for “six to eight weeks” to get into the playoffs as the final seed in the East and that it’s going to take a lot more consistency to achieve that same goal with the upcoming 82-game schedule.

“It’s going to take nine months really to get back there” Tavares said. “To want to play for the Cup and go far in the playoffs it’s a grind.”

It’s a grind no Islanders team since Patrick Flatley Pierre Turgeon and Glenn Healy has been able to withstand. But when it comes for internal expectations for this current group coach Jack Capuano is focused strictly on consistency of effort.