"The Skinny" on the Season Opener
By Eric Hornick
It's been 180 days since the Islanders skated off Barclays Center ice with a 6-game winning streak, but without a playoff spot for the first time in three seasons. The drive to get back to the playoffs begins on Friday.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 6th— ISLANDERS AT COLUMBUS 7:00PM
[MSG+ (Islanders pre-game at 6:30pm), WMCA 570, WRCN 103.9FM, 88.7 WRHU-FM]
The Islanders begin their 46th NHL season at Nationwide Arena in Columbus as they face the Blue Jackets in an Opener for the first time.
It's the first of four meetings between the teams this season as the Isles return to an arena where they were outscored 13-2 last season after sweeping all three games in Ohio the previous season.
The Isles are 2-1-1 on Opening Night over the last four years; however, they are only 3-8-3 in their last 14 Openers. Overall, the Isles are 11-22-11 on Opening Night (9-18-8 on the road). The Isles are 11-24-9 in their first road game of the season.
October 6th is the 25th anniversary of their 1992 opener in New Jersey. While the Isles lost 4-3 that night, that season included an upset win over the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins (sound familiar?) in the Patrick Division Final.
Opening Night Skinny:
The Isles 11-22-11 (.375) Opening Night record is 3rd worst among current teams; it is better than Carolina (8-20-9, .338, including Hartford) and Anaheim 5-18-0 (.217).
The Blue Jackets will be opening at home for the 11th time in their sixteen NHL seasons; however, the Jackets are only 3-6-2 in those 11 games, including a 6-3 loss to Boston last season. The Jackets' .364 winning percentage when opening at home is the lowest of any incumbent NHL team.
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 six of the last eight seasons, including Nick Leddy at Madison Square Garden last season.
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).
Doug Weight is one of 4 NHL coaches who will coach on Opening Night for the first time. Former Islander Travis Green (Vancouver), Bob Boughner (Florida), and Phil Housley (Buffalo) are the others. Jackets' coach John Tortorella is 6-5-1 in 12 previous Opening Nights.
The Isles will be looking for their 7th straight regular season win (over 2 seasons). The last time that the Isles won seven straight games it was also over two seasons as they ended the 2013-2014 season with three wins, and then won the first four games the following October.
And some other Skinny notes:
The Isles will play 16 sets of back-to-backs, opening the season with one and then playing the 2nd the following weekend in California. After that they will play 5 back-to-backs in a 5-week period beginning in mid-November.
The Isles will play five road back-to-backs (all by mid-December), seven home-road back-to-backs, and four road-home back-to-backs.
The Isles played also had 16 back-to-back sets last season. They played 15 sets in 2015-16, 16 sets in 2014-15 and 18 sets in 2013-14.
Vegas' Arrival Changes the Schedule
With the NHL expanding to 31 teams, there is a slight change in the schedule. The Isles will play all seven divisional opponents four times, will face all eight Atlantic Division teams three times and will play the 15 Western Conference teams, including Vegas, twice each.
To accommodate the two Vegas games (October 30 in Brooklyn and January 25 in Las Vegas) there will no longer be a 5th game against two divisional opponents.
For the second straight season, Jason Chimera (5-2-79) is the only player on the Islanders 23-man active roster born in the 1970s. Denis Seidenberg (7-18-81) is the second oldest player on the roster and is one of nine players born in the 1980s (Johnny Boychuk, Jaroslav Halak, Andrew Ladd, Thomas Greiss, Nikolay Kulemin, Cal Clutterbuck, Thomas Hickey and Josh Bailey). All 11 players are returnees.
The youngest Islander remains Anthony Beauvillier, who turned 20 on June 8th. He is 13 days younger than Mathew Barzal.
Of the 23 players, newcomer Jordan Eberle is "middle-age". Eberle, born May 15, 1990 is older than 11 teammates and younger than 11 others.
The Islanders have three rookies on their NHL roster, although all three have already made their Islanders/NHL debuts.
Joshua Ho-Sang has the most experience, going 4-6-10 in 21 games last season. Ryan Pulock went 2-2-4 in fifteen games for the Isles two seasons ago; he also played one NHL game last season. Mathew Barzal played two NHL games (0-0-0) for the Isles last season; he was then returned to Seattle and led the Thunderbirds to the Western Hockey League title.
The Islander 23-man roster looks a lot like the Opening Night roster last year as there are only five newcomers (Joshua Ho-Sang, Jordan Eberle, Scott Mayfield, Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock). Alan Quine and Shane Prince are both on injured reserved after being on the Opening Night roster last season; JF Berube, Ryan Strome and Travis Hamonic are no longer with the organization.
The 23 players represent six nationalities: American (Leddy, Lee, Mayfield, Nelson), Canadian (15 players), German (Seidenberg & Greiss), Russian (Kulemin) and Slovakian (Halak)
Doug Weight begins his first full season as an NHL bench boss; the Islanders were 24-12-4 (.650) in 40 games under Weight. The Isles have added three assistant coaches with extensive NHL playing experience (Kelly Buchberger, Luke Richardson, and Scott Gomez).
Most Points in NHL Since January 19th (Weight's First Game)
1. Caps 26-10-2 (54)
2. ISLES 24-12-4 (52)
3. Pens 22-10-6 (50)
Garth Snow begins the season as the 4th-longest tenured GM with his current squad (David Poile, Ken Holland, and Doug Wilson). Snow celebrated his 11th anniversary as Islander general manager on July 18th.
A Look Back
The Isles finished the 2016-17 regular season with a 41-29-12 record, which was the exact same record as the Western Conference Champion Nashville Predators. After opening the season 6-10-4, Isles finished 35-19-8 in their last 62 games
The Isles went 22-12-7 at Barclays Center; in two seasons in Brooklyn the Isles are 47-23-12.
The Isles went 19-17-5 on the road, including 17-11-2 in their last 30 road games.
The Isles went 30-0-5 in games they led after two periods, marking the first time since 2003-04 (26-0-0) that the Isles have earned a point in every game they led after 40 minutes.
The Captain Shall Lead Them
Islander Captain John Tavares turned 27 in September. In his eight NHL seasons he has moved into the Islanders all-time Top 10s in goals (tied-8), assists (10th) and points (9th).
Since Tavares entered the NHL in 2009-10, only six players have scored more goals than JT's 235 (Alex Ovechkin 339, Steven Stamkos 298, Corey Perry 258, Sidney Crosby 250, Patrick Kane 239, Joe Pavelski 237). Tavares has played in more games, and tallied more goals, assists, and points than any other player in his Entry Draft class (2009).
Andrew Ladd has scored at least 23 goals in each of the last four seasons; he is one of 16 NHL players to reach that mark in four straight seasons. Ladd enters the new campaign three points shy of 500 for his career (233-264-497).
Look at Me, I'm Anders Lee!
Anders Lee recorded 33 goals in the final 63 games (since November 23rd). Only Calder Trophy winner Auston Matthews (34) scored more goals in that span. Lee recorded 19 of those goals in 39 games he played under then-interim Coach Doug Weight.
About the New Guy
Jordan Eberle joins the Isles after spending his first seven NHL seasons in Edmonton. Eberle has scored at least 20 goals in each of the last four seasons, and had a career-high 34 goals in 2011-12. His career totals stand at 165-217-382 in 507 NHL games. Of the players drafted in 2008, only Steven Stamkos has scored more goals than Eberle. Josh Bailey, also selected in that draft, is 7th on the list with 106 goals.
Four current Islanders appeared in all 82 games last season, although Jordan Eberle did so for Edmonton. Jason Chimera begins the season as the Isles' ironman, having appeared in 188 consecutive games. Eberle has appeared in 151 consecutive games.
Josh Bailey owns the longest current streak of Islanders games (149) while Calvin deHaan has appeared in 85 consecutive Islander games.
All-time Islander Leader Boards:
Games Played (skaters)
1. Bryan Trottier 1123 *** 2. Denis Potvin 1060 *** 3. Bob Nystrom 900
8. Brent Sutter 694 *** 9. Josh Bailey 639
15 Garry Howatt 596 *** 16. John Tonelli 594 *** 17. John Tavares 587
1. Mike Bossy 573 *** 2. Bryan Trottier 500 *** 3. Denis Potvin 310 *** 4. Clark Gillies 304***
5. Pat LaFontaine and Brent Sutter 287 *** 7. Bob Bourne 238 *** 8. Bob Nystrom and John Tavares 235
22. Mark Parrish, Matt Moulson and Steve Thomas 118 *** 25. Ray Ferraro 116 *** 26. Josh Bailey 106
36. Travis Green 92 *** 37. Michael Grabner 90 *** 38. Butch Goring 87 *** 39. Anders Lee 84
1. Bryan Trottier 853 *** 2. Denis Potvin 742 *** 3. Mike Bossy 553
7. Brent Sutter 323 *** 8. Stefan Persson 317 *** 9. Bob Bourne 304 *** 10. John Tavares 302
15. Tomas Jonsson 249 *** 16. Frans Nielson and Kyle Okposo 230 ***18. Josh Bailey 200
1. Bryan Trottier 1353 *** 2. Mike Bossy 1126 *** 3. Denis Potvin 1052
6. Pat LaFontaine 566 *** 7. John Tonelli 544 *** 8. Bob Bourne 542 *** 9. John Tavares 537
17. Pierre Turgeon 340 *** 18. Tomas Jonsson 333 *** 19. Ziggy Palffy 331 *** 20. Josh Bailey 306
Same Voices, Same Places
MSG Networks will carry 81 of the Isles' 82 games this season (NBCSN has the January 15th game in Montreal). Brendan Burke and Butch Goring partner for the second season; Shannon Hogan hosts Isles telecasts for the 4th season.
On radio, Chris King and Greg Picker are partnered for the third straight season. In New York City, you'll hear 30 games on CBS Radio (primarily WFAN 660AM/101.9FM), with the remainder airing on WNYM 970 AM. On Long Island, all games will air on WRHU (88.7FM); games that air on 970AM will also air on WRCN (103.9FM). Note that Friday's opener will air on WMCA (570 AM) in New York City.
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.