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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Skinny on the Openers

"The Skinny" … on the Openers 

By Eric Hornick

The NHL released the home opener schedules for the 2017-18 season on Wednesday.  It's the Islanders' 46th NHL season and one that will include 12 regular season games at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The Opener:
The Isles will open the season on Thursday, October 4th at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina against the Hurricanes.  It will be the second time that the teams have faced each other on Opening Night, with the previous game (a 5-3 Islander win in 2014) also in Raleigh. All-time, the Isles are 11-23-11 in 45 previous openers, including 2-2-1 in their last 5.  The Isles are 11-25-9 in their first road game of the season.

Both teams will have new head coaches for that game as Rod Brind'Amour was named Hurricane coach on May 8th; the Isles have yet to name their head coach.
The Isles are opening on October 4th for the fifth time in their history (all on the road), having previously done so in 1983, 1990, 1996 and 2013.  

In 1983, the Isles opened with a loss in Quebec; the Isles lost in Los Angeles to open in both 1990 and 1996.  The Isles defeated the New Jersey Devils 4-3 on October 4, 2013 in Newark as Michael Grabner scored twice and Matt Moulson was credited with the winning tally in a shootout.

That 2014 game marked the started of the Isles final (for at least three years) home season on Long Island and featured the Islander debuts of nine players, including Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk.

The Home Opener:
The Isles will begin the home slate with the first of 29 home games scheduled for Brooklyn on Saturday, October 6th as they face the reigning Presidents Trophy Champion Nashville Predators. It will be the first time that the Isles have faced Nashville in a home opener.  The Isles are 27-12-6 all-time in home openers (2-0-1 at Barclays Center) and have gone 3-0-2 in their last 5 home openers.

Like the Isles, this will be the second game of the season for the Preds, who will play the Rangers two nights earlier.
The home opener extends an Islander streak of home openers on either Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.  The last midweek opener was on Thursday, October 16, 1986 vs. Washington; the Isles defeated the Caps 7-4.  Six months later the Isles would need 7 periods to win their 4th game of the series against Washington, winning the Easter Epic. 

This is the second time in franchise history that the Isles have had an October 6th home opener.  Back in 2007, the Isles defeated Buffalo 3-2 as Mike Comrie opened his Islander career with his second consecutive two-goal game.

The entire NHL schedule, including the first Islander regular season game on Long Island since April 2015, will be released on Thursday.

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