The Washington Times - November 5, 2011, 02:43PM

UNIONDALE, N.Y. | The New York Islanders might be a bad team. They look like it as of late, going 0-4-2 in their last six and haven’t won since Oct. 15.

But that kind of stretch can make them even more dangerous, according to Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau and his players.

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“They work so hard, and you just know that they’re going to break out,” Boudreau said. “You just pray it’s not against you.”

The Islanders were considered by some a chic pick to be much-improved this season and maybe even challenge for a playoff spot. But instead they’re tied with the disappointing Boston Bruins in the basement of the Eastern Conference.

Meanwhile, the Caps have won two straight after blowing out the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night. There’s reason for caution on the second half of this back-to-back on the road.

“That’s a trap you fall into, with this team. You look at their record and you look at the fact that they haven’t scored a lot of goals and it’s very easy to think that you’re going to have another night like you had last night,” veteran right wing Mike Knuble said. “They show up and play hard against us. They put you on your heels very quickly. They’ll come out buzzing – we know that. You can talk about it and know it’s going to happen, but are you going to be prepared for it?”

The Caps sound like a team mentally ready for New York. Carolina, in a similar way, has struggled, and the Hurricanes have guys like John Tavares and Kyle Okposo, who can put up big numbers when they get a chance.

Boudreau said he and his team know the Islanders’ “capabilities,” and Marcus Johansson said the Caps “need to be on our toes from the start.” That’s because the first goal means a lot, especially with a struggling opponent like New York.

“Once somebody gets a goal early or something, then you can see floodgates opening and them getting a lot of confidence from it,” Boudreau said. “We got our hands full.”