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The Skinny: Carolina 6, Isles 3 (Carolina wins series 4-1)

"The Skinny" By Eric Hornick Eastern Conference Round 1, Game 5 Carolina 6, Isles 3 Carolina Wins Series 4-1 School is out. Jack D...

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Opening Night Skinny

"The Skinny"

By Eric Hornick
It's been 181 days since a Cam Atkinson shootout goal cost the Isles home ice, and 165 days since Evgeny Kuznetsov's third period goal sent the Isles into summer, and into Brooklyn.  It all begins again on Friday.

[MSG+ (Islanders pre-game at 7:00pm), 88.7 WRHU-FM, 91.5 WNYE, 103.9 WRCN]
The Islanders begin their 44th NHL season and the Brooklyn era when they entertain the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks.

It's the first of a season-opening home and home series for the Isles, and their only two meetings with the Champs.  The teams split a pair of games last year, as the Isles won 3-2 at the Coliseum in December while the Hawks won 4-1 in Chicago on St. Patrick's Day.

The Isles are 8-3-2 in their last 13 vs. Chicago, dating back to Alexei Yashin's only career 4-goal game, in Chicago on March 25, 2003. The Isles are 5-0-1 in their last 6 at home vs. Chicago, dating back to 2002.  Only Arizona (earlier in 2002) and Edmonton (1999) have gone longer without a regulation win vs. the Isles in New York.
The Isles will be looking for their third straight Opening Night win, but are 3-7-2 in their last 12 Openers.  Overall, the Isles are 11-21-10 on Opening Night (2-4-2 at home).

Opening Night Skinny:
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).  The Isles' last Monday-Friday home opener was on Thursday October 16, 1986 vs. Washington; it was a 7-4 win that occurred the day after the Mets' monumental 16-inning win over Houston to win the NLCS.

The Isles 11-21-10 (.381) Opening Night record is 3rd worst among current teams; it is better than Carolina (8-19-8, .343, including Hartford entering their game on Thursday) and Anaheim 5-16-0 (.238).

The Isles have used six different goalies in the last seven season openers (Rick DiPietro-Joey MacDonald-Dwayne Roloson-Al Montoya-Evgeni Nabokov-Evgeni Nabokov-Jaroslav Halak).  It will be seven in eight if Halak doesn't play on Friday.

It is only the third time in club history that the Isles are opening their season with a home-and-home series. In 2007, the Isles won in Buffalo on Opening Night (6-4) and then defeated the Sabres (3-2) at the Coliseum the following evening; the Isles swept a pair of games from Carolina last October, 5-3 and 4-3, enroute to a 4-0-0 start.

The Isles have been involved in three shutouts on Opening Night.  Chico Resch blanked the Flyers in 1976, while the Kings (Stephane Fiset in 1996) and Panthers (Jose Theodore in 2011) turned the trick on the Isles.

A defenseman has scored the first goal of the season for the Isles in 5 of the last 6 seasons, including Johnny Boychuk last year.

Mikhail Grabovski is one of five six Active Players with an Opening Night hat trick:
·         Paul Stastny, COL (10/3/07 vs. DAL)
·         Derek Stepan, NYR (10/9/10 at BUF)
·         Mikhail Grabovski, WSH (10/1/13 at CHI)
·         Radim Vrbata, PHX (10/3/13 vs. NYR)
·         Corey Perry (ANA (10/9/14 at Pit)
·         Zach Parise (MIN (10/8/15 at COL)

The Islander club record for the fastest goal on Opening Night is 1:01, set by Dave Scatchard on October 10, 2002 in Buffalo.  The NHL record for the fastest Opening Night goal is 0:10, set by Kent Nilsson of Minnesota (10/11/86 @ Quebec).

And some other Skinny notes:

Youth Be Served
The Islanders 23-man roster consists of one player born in the 1970s (Marek Zidlicky) and ten players born in the 1990s (Jean-Francois Berube, Casey Cizikas, Calvin deHaan, Travis Hamonic, Nick Leddy, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Ryan Pulock, Ryan Strome and John Tavares).  The other 12 players were born in the 1980s.
The Isles do not have a teenager on the opening night roster.  Pulock is the youngest Islander; he turned  21 on Wednesday.  Ryan Strome, who turned 22 in July is the second youngest.
Johnny Boychuk is the second oldest player on the roster (1/19/1984), 12 days older than Mikhail Grabovski.
Of the 23 players, Matt Martin is "middle-age".  Martin, born May 8, 1989 is older than 11 teammates and younger than 11 others.  Despite his 401 career points, only 7 Islanders are younger than John Tavares, who turned 25 last month.

Stability at the Top
Jack Capuano begins the season as the 4th-longest tenured coach with his current team (behind Claude Julien, Joel Quenneville and Dave Tippett) while Garth Snow begins the season as the 5th-longest tenured GM with his current squad.
Of the nine New York head coaches/managers, only Tom Coughlin and Joe Girardi were appointed before Capuano, who assumed his role with the Islanders eight days before Terry Collins became the manager of the Mets.

A Look Back
The Isles were 41-20-2 in their first 63 games, but finished the 2014-15 regular season 6-8-5 in the last 19.  Their 47 wins was the most by an Isles squad since the still-reigning Stanley Cup Champions won 50 games in 1983-84.
The Isles went 25-14-2 on Coliseum ice, equaling their most home wins since 1984-85 (they finished 25-11-4-1 in 2003-04 and went 26-11-3 in 1984-85).
The Isles finished with an all-time record of 831-610-224 in 1,665 regular season games at the Coliseum.
The Isles went 22-14-5 on the road, including 6-2-4 in their last 12.  The Isles have won at least 20 road games in consecutive seasons for the second time in franchise history (1981-82 and 1982-83).
The Isles had at least 22 wins both at home and on the road for the first time since the 1983-84 season, when they won 28 at home and 22 on the road

The Big 3
The Isles went 39-18-6 in the 63 games that they have had Nick Leddy, Johnny Boychuk and Travis Hamonic all in the lineup.  They were 8-10-1 in the 19 games that one or two were missing.

The Captain
John Tavares finished with a career high 86 points, including at least one point in six straight games and a goal in three straight games… Tavares finished with over a point per game for the 2nd straight season; prior to Tavares no Islander since Ziggy Palffy had done that.

Need to Finish
The Isles allowed 8 goals in the last 10 seconds of a period last season (none into an empty net) and had six games in which they had a 2--goal lead at any point but did not win (0-3-3), including the season finale....The Isles were 6-0 in shootouts prior to Christmas, but lost six of their last seven shootouts, including the last five.

Second to The One
Jack Capuano is the 2nd winningest coach in Islander history. Capuano is 165-148-46 behind the Islander bench. Among the 9 New York teams, only the Giants' Tom Coughlin and the Yankees' Joe Girardi have led their respective teams longer than Capuano.

Most games coached (Islanders):
1.     Al Arbour 1,500
2.     Jack Capuano 359
3.     Mike Milbury 191
4.     Terry Simpson 187
5.     Scott Gordon 181
Most wins by Islander coaches:
1.     Al Arbour 740
2.     Jack Capuano 165
3.     Terry Simpson 81
4.     Peter Laviolette 77
5.     Ted Nolan 74

Head of the Class
Islander Captain John Tavares has 401 career points; he is 83 points ahead of Matt Duchene for most among 2009 draft picks.  No other player in that draft is anywhere close.  Tavares also has more goals and more assists than any other player in that draft.

This Team is Deep!
John Tavares was held pointless 28 times last season and the Isles are 15-12-1 in those games.  Prior to 2014-2015 the Isles were 40-89-22 in the 151 games in which Tavares was scoreless.

Nikolay Kulemin, Brock Nelson and Marek Zidlicky are the Islanders' reigning ironmen.  Kulemin has played 150 consecutive games (68 for Toronto and 82 for the Isles) while Nelson and Zidlicky have each played 135 consecutive games (Nelson 135 for Isles, Zidlicky 114 for New Jersey and 21 for Detroit). John Tavares was the only other Islander to play every game last season.  It was the third time that Tavares has played all 82 games, the second time that Kulemin has done so and the first time that Nelson has done so.
Over the last three seasons, Marek Zidlicky has played 213 regular season games.  The Islanders (and the other 29 teams) have played only 212 in that span -- Zidlicky played 84 games last season: 63 with New Jersey and 21 with Detroit.

All-time Islander Leader Board:

John Tavares has:
·         174 goals (12th all-time and 10 behind Billy Harris)
·         227 assists (15th all-time, 22 behind Tomas Jonsson and 32 behind Billy Harris)
·         401 points (13th all-time and 42 behind Billy Harris)
·         432 games played (33rd among Islander skaters all-time, and 18 behind Kyle Okposo and Scott Lachance)

Kyle Okposo has:
·         117 goals (23rd all-time and 1 behind Steve Thomas, Matt Moulson and Mark Parrish)
·         188 assists (18th all-time, 5 behind Pierre Turgeon and 8 behind Frans Nielsen)
·         305 points (18th all-time, 26 behind Ziggy Palffy and 28 behind Tomas Jonsson)
·         450 games played (tied-31st among Islander skaters all-time with Scott Lachance and 9 behind Trent Hunter)

Frans Nielsen has:
·         99 goals (tied-28th all-time with Trent Hunter and 2 behind Anders Kallur)
·         198 assists (16th all-time and 29 behind John Tavares)
·         297 points (19th all-time and 8 behind Kyle Okposo)
·         525 games played (21st among Islander skaters all-time, 5 behind Pat LaFontaine and 7 behind Tomas Jonsson)

 Josh Bailey has:
·         137 assists (32nd all-time, 1 behind Greg Gilbert, 2 behind Mark Streit, and 3 behind Steve Thomas)
·         218 points (35th all-time, 1 behind Mikko Makela and 5 behind Matt Moulson)
·         476 games played (tied-27th among Islander skaters with Gerry Hart)

NHL Accounting

This is the start of the Isles 44th season (although they've only taken the ice in 43 of them).  It's also an anniversary year for both Howie Rose (who called his first Islander game 20 years ago Wednesday) and Jiggs McDonald (who called Isles games from 15 years from 1980-1995 and has filled in for Howie on occasion in each of the last 10 years).

Eric Hornick has been the statistician on Islander home game telecasts since 1982. Information contained in "The Skinny" has been gathered from various sources.  Follow Eric @ehornick on Twitter & on his blog www.nyiskinny.com.
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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