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Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Skinny on The Schedule

aka... And Now for Something Completely Different!

The NHL released the 2015-16 regular season schedule on Wednesday and the Isles' schedule is certainly different than what fans saw in the Coliseum era.

The most noticeable change is that the Isles will play only 4 home games on Saturday -- and two of those, including a matinee, are in April. Only 6 Tuesday dates are scheduled.  The Isles hosted 13 Saturday and 12 Tuesday games last season.

Even the 18 total Saturday games is unusual -- the Isles played only 17 Saturday games in 1993-94 but played at least 19 Saturday games in every other full season in their history, including 25 last season.  The Isles will have 3 consecutive Saturdays off twice this season (November 7th, 14th & 21st and February 20th, 27th, & March 5th)

The Isles will host at least one game on each of the 7 days of the week -- that isn't as strange as it might sound; the Isles hosted games on all 7 days in each of the last six full seasons.

The breakdown of the schedule, day by day is as follows:

Home Away Total
Sunday 7 3 10
Monday 10 0 10
Tuesday 6 9 15
Wednesday 3 1 4
Thursday 7 9 16
Friday 4 5 9
Saturday 4 14 18

The Isles will play their Friday and Saturday night home games (seven in all) at 7:30 pm.  23 of their 24 Monday-Thursday night games will start at 7:00 pm, with the December 2nd match-up with the Rangers starting at 8:00 (undoubtedly for NBCSN's Rivalry Night).  The seven Sunday home games will start at 5 different times, ranging from 2:30 pm (February 7th, the day of Super Bowl 50, vs Edmonton) to 7:30 pm (November 1st vs Buffalo). The remaining three games are 1:00 pm matinees on Columbus Day (October 12), President's Day (February 15) and on Saturday, April 2nd.

For the second straight season, the Isles will open the season with a home-and-home series.  However, this time it is the Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks (and not Carolina) providing the opposition.  The teams will play in the first-ever Barclay's Center regular season game on Friday, October 9th at 7:30 before playing in Chicago 25 hours later.  The Isles also have home-and-home series with Toronto, Montreal and Carolina.

It's the 2nd time that the Isles have opened the home season against Chicago (also in 1984 - the first home game of the Post-Cup era) and it will also be the 2nd time that the Isles have played the regular season opener against the Hawks (also in 1986 - the first game of the Terry Simpson era).

The Isles had opened at home on a Saturday in each of the last 14 seasons and in 26 of the last 27 seasons. (The Isles opened with a Sunday matinee against Colorado in 1999.)

There is only one homestand of four games, and it doesn't start until March 29th.  The Isles also have only one stretch of at least four straight on the road -- a 7-game stretch that begins in New Jersey on February 19th and ends in Manhattan on March 6th, with Minnesota and Western Canada in between.  Those seven games are the first seven of a stretch in which the Isles will play 12 of 14 on the road.

For the first time since the schedule change, the Isles will face the Rangers only four times.  The Isles will play Columbus and Philadelphia five times each this season, making three trips to Ohio and hosting the Flyers three times. The Isles will also face Carolina, New Jersey, Pittsburgh and Washington four times.

The Isles will have a chance to get used to their new home as 10 of their first 15 games are at home. Overall, 32 of the first 57 but only 9 of the last 25 will be played in Brooklyn.

The Isles will play 15 sets of back-to-backs this season; all but 1 of them (February 18-19) will be part of a 3-game in 4-days stretch. The Isles will play 3 in 4 days on 19 occasions this season (some of them overlap the same pair of back-to-backs).  They have one stretch of 6 games in 9 days, beginning the night after Thanksgiving in Florida. 

There are 5 days off at Christmas, and 7 days off around the All-Star Break.  There is only one other stretch where the Isles go 4 days without a game (January 18-21).  After hosting Vancouver on January 17th, the Isles will play only three times in the next 15 days.

The Isles will also close the season at home, likely entertaining Jack Eichel and the Buffalo Sabres, on April 9th.  There is a bit of symmetry there as well, as Buffalo was also the opponent for the first Coliseum finale (March 27, 1973).  This will be the third time in four seasons that the Isles ended the regular season against the Sabres (also in Buffalo in both 2013 and 2014 as well as in 1981).

The complete schedule is available on the Isles website: http://islanders.nhl.com/club/schedule.htm

Most of you will read this on Friday, meaning that is only 105 days until the Isles play their regular season opener.
And Finally -- This being The Skinny, I need to point out that the Isles will not be one of the six NHL games to be played on Monday, February 29, 2016. The Isles have played four Leap Day games in their history, with the last being in 2004.

Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since January 21, 1982. Visit my blog: NYISkinny.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

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