By Eric Hornick
It's been 180 days since the Islanders skated off the ice with an overtime win at Detroit's Little Caesars Arena, but without a playoff spot for the second straight season. The drive to get back to the playoffs begins on Thursday.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 4th— ISLANDERS AT CAROLINA 7:00PM
[MSG+ (Islanders pre-game at 6:30pm), WRCN 103.9FM, 88.7 WRHU-FM]
The Islanders begin their 47th NHL season at PNC Arena in Raleigh they face the Carolina Hurricanes in an Opener for the second time. Four years ago, the Isles opened the final season of the Coliseum era with a home-and-home sweep of the Canes; this season 20 of the Isles' 41 home games will Happen at the Coliseum.
It's the first of four meetings between the teams this season; the teams split four games last season (all in regulation) with each team winning once at home and once on the road. Thomas Greiss was in goal for both Islander victories, including a 45-save shutout in February while Johnny Boychuk scored the winning goal in both games.
The Isles are 2-2-1 on Opening Night over the last five years; however, they are only 3-9-3 in their last 15 Openers. Overall, the Isles are 11-23-11 on Opening Night (9-19-8 on the road). The Isles are 11-25-9 in their first road game of the season.
This is the fifth time that the Isles will open a season on October 4th. All four previous games were also on the road, with the Isles going 1-3-0 with a 2013 shootout victory in New Jersey.
Opening Night Skinny:
The Isles 11-23-11 (.367) Opening Night record is 3rd worst among current teams; however, one of the teams that they are better than is Carolina (9-20-9, .355, including Hartford). Anaheim has the worst record on opening night of any current team: 6-18-0 (.250).
The Hurricane franchise will be opening at home for the 22nd time in their 38 NHL seasons; however, the Canes are only 6-8-7 in the first 21.
The Isles have been involved in four shutouts on Opening Night. Chico Resch blanked the Flyers in 1976, while the Kings (Stephane Fiset in 1996), Panthers (Jose Theodore in 2011), and Blue Jackets (Sergei Bobrovsky last season) turned the trick on the Isles.
A defenseman has scored the first goal of the season for the Isles in six of the last nine seasons; departed forward John Tavares had the honors in the second minute of the second game a season ago.
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).
New Islander coach Barry Trotz will be behind an NHL bench on Opening Night for the 20th time – as many as any other current NHL coach; Trotz is 9-7-3 in Openers while Chicago's Joel Quenneville is 5-8-6 in his 19 Openers. Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour is one of four NHL coaches who will coach on Opening Night for the first time. Jim Montgomery (Dallas), David Quinn (Rangers) and Todd Reirden (Washington) are the others.
The Isles will play only 13 sets of back-to-backs (three fewer than last season). The first back-to-back will be in California against the Ducks and Kings on October 17-18.
The Isles will play five road back-to-backs, four home back-to-backs, two home-road back-to-backs, and two road-home back-to-backs.
The Isles played 16 back-to-back sets each of the last two seasons. They played 15 sets in 2015-16, 16 sets in 2014-15 and 18 sets in 2013-14.
It Will Happen at the Coliseum, Again!
The Isles will split their 41 home games this season, playing 21 at Barclays Center and 20 at NYCB Live, the home of the Nassau Coliseum.
The Isles will play their first 11 home games in Brooklyn (beginning Saturday vs. Nashville), before returning to the Coliseum on Saturday, December 1st vs. Columbus. The back of the schedule is reversed, as the final ten home games will be played on Long Island. The Toronto Maple Leafs will be the final opponent in both buildings (February 27th in Brooklyn and April 1st on Long Island).
Feels like Home
24 of the Isles' 41 home games will follow the traditional Tuesday (7), Thursday (6), Saturday (11) schedule. They will also play six home games on both Sunday and Monday, two on Wednesday and three on Friday.
The 2018-19 schedule features twelve afternoon games, including eight in the second half. Nine of the twelve afternoon games will be at home; both Isles games in Philadelphia will be played on Saturday afternoon. The first matinee will be on Columbus Day against San Jose (1pm at Barclays Center).
Schedule by Month
October (11), November (13), December (14), January (11), February (14), March (16), April (3)
The Isles have a 5-game homestand in late February/early March and a 4-game homestand in mid-January. They have two 4-game road trips: in October they head to Nashville and California while they visit the Southwest in the four games leading into the Christmas Break.
The Isles will play seven games in an 11 day stretch in mid-January. All seven games will be part of three games in four day stretches. The Isles will also play eight games in a 13 day stretch in March.
The 2018-19 Islanders:
Lots of New Faces
The Islander 23-man roster looks a lot different than Opening Night last year as there are eight newcomers (Valtteri Filppula, Matt Martin, Luca Sbisa, Leo Komarov, Robin Lehner, Tanner Fritz, Tom Kuhnhackl and Ross Johnston). Andrew Ladd is on Injured Reserve and Joshua Ho-Sang is with Bridgeport while Jaroslav Halak, Dennis Seidenberg, Jason Chimera, Calvin deHaan, Nikolay Kulemin and John Tavares are no longer with the organization.
The 23 players represent seven nationalities: American (Leddy, Lee, Mayfield, Nelson), Canadian (thirteen players), German (Greiss and Kuhnhackl), Finnish (Filppula), Swedish (Lehner), Italian (Sbisa), and Estonian (Komarov).
Old and Young
Johnny Boychuk (1-19-84) is the oldest player on the current roster. For the third straight season, the youngest Islander remains Anthony Beauvillier, who turned 21 on June 8th.
Of the 23 players, Casey Cizikas is "middle-age". Cizikas, born February 27, 1991 is older than 11 teammates and younger than 11 others. The average Islander is 27 years, 11 months old.
Big and Small
Scott Mayfield and Ross Johnston are both listed at 6'5"; six Isles are listed at 5'11". Robin Lehner is listed at 240 pounds, while Anthony Beauvillier is 182 pounds. The average Isles is 6'1", and 210 pounds.
Stanley Cup Champion Head Coach Barry Trotz begins his first season with the Isles. Scott Gomez is the only holdover from last year's assistant staff, while Trotz has added Lane Lambert, John Gruden, goaltender coach Piero Greco, special assignment coach Jacques Lemaire and director of goaltending Mitch Korn.
Keeping Great Company
Entering the 2018-19 season, Barry Trotz ranks fifth in NHL history in wins (762) and games coached (1,524). Trotz also ranks second among active head coaches in wins and games coached to Joel Quenneville's 884 wins and 1621 games. Trotz is 83 games coached behind Al Arbour; he will tie Arbour's career total on Opening Night next season. He is also 20 wins behind Arbour's total of 782.
Win, Win, Win
After 27 seasons in New Jersey and three seasons in Toronto, Lou Lamoriello is the new Islander President and General Manager. Lou's teams have combined to go 1,211-854-179-142 in 2,386 games.
A Look Back
The Isles finished the 2017-18 regular season with a 35-37-10 record. The Isles opened the season 15-7-2 but went 20-30-8 in their final 58 games.
The Isles went 19-18-4 at Barclays Center (including an 8-0-2 start); in three seasons in Brooklyn the Isles are 66-41-16. The Isles went 16-19-6 on the road last season.
Look at Me, I'm Anders Lee!
Anders Lee became the Isles' first 40 goal score since Jason Blake. Since Thanksgiving Eve 2016, Lee has recorded 75 goals in 145 games. Only Alex Ovechkin (75 goals in 146 games) has as many goals in that span. Lee is also the first Islander with multiple 34+ goal seasons since Ziggy Palffy (1995-96 to 1997-98).
The B Brothers
Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier both reached the 21-goal mark last season, becoming the first duo in Islander history to each 21 games in the same season, prior to reaching their 21st birthday.
Barzal, the Calder Trophy Winner, became the third highest-scoring rookie in Islander history; tying Bryan Trottier's club rookie record with a team-leading 63 assists and recording a team-leading 85 points. Barzal joined Denis Potvin as the only rookies in Islander history to lead the team in both assists and points. Over the last 18 seasons, only Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin recorded more points in their rookie years.
Beauvillier, who led the Isles in goals after New Year's (17), also went +11 in that span [best among Isles forwards].
Brock Nelson begins the season with 99 goals. He will become the 31st Islander to reach 100 goals with his next tally.
Eberle's Countdown to 200
Jordan Eberle begins the season with 190 NHL goals and will be the second player from his 2008 draft class to reach 200 (Stamkos 348). Eberle has scored at least 20 goals in each of the last five seasons and had a career-high 34 goals in 2011-12. Josh Bailey, also selected in that draft, is 7th on the list with 124 goals. Bailey has played in 715 NHL games, more than any other forward from that draft year.
Matt Martin has rejoined the Isles after spending the last two seasons with Toronto. Martin has 2,475 hits in his career, which is 7th all-time since the NHL began recording hits in 2005-06. His linemate Cal Clutterbuck is 3rd all-time (2,806; just 9 hits fewer than Brooks Orpik). Dustin Brown is the NHL record holder with 3,166.
Martin has the three largest single-season totals in NHL history (and four of the top five). Cal Clutterbuck holds spots 6, 7, 8, and 9 on the single season hit list.
Three current Islanders appeared in all 82 games last season. Anders Lee begins the season as the Isles' ironman, having appeared in 118 consecutive games. Brock Nelson and Mathew Barzal also played every game for the Isles last season.
All-time Islander Leader Boards:
Games Played (skaters)
1. Bryan Trottier 1123 *** 2. Denis Potvin 1060 *** 3. Bob Nystrom 900
6. Mike Bossy 752 *** 7. Josh Bailey 715
1. Mike Bossy 573 *** 2. Bryan Trottier 500 *** 3. Denis Potvin 310
17. Kyle Okposo 139 *** 18. Jason Blake 127 *** 19. Josh Bailey and Anders Lee 124
1. Bryan Trottier 853 *** 2. Denis Potvin 742 *** 3. Mike Bossy 553
13. Bobby Nystrom 278 *** 14. Billy Harris 259 *** 15. Josh Bailey 252
1. Bryan Trottier 1353 *** 2. Mike Bossy 1126 *** 3. Denis Potvin 1052
13. Billy Harris 443 *** 14. Josh Bailey 376
Games Played (Goalies)
1. Billy Smith 674 *** 2. Rick DiPietro 318 *** 3. Glenn Resch 282
10. Garth Snow 127 *** 11. Evgeni Nabokov 123 *** 12. Thomas Greiss 118
1. Billy Smith 304 *** 2. Glenn Resch 157 *** 3. Rick DiPietro 130
6. Rollie Melanson 77*** 7. Glenn Healy 66 *** 8. Tommy Salo and Thomas Greiss 62
Same Voices, Same Places
MSG Networks will carry 81 of the Isles' 82 games this season (NBCSN has the January 3rd game vs. Chicago). Brendan Burke and Butch Goring partner for the third season; Shannon Hogan hosts Isles telecasts for the 5th season.
On radio, Chris King and Greg Picker are partnered for the fourth straight season. All games will air on WRHU (88.7FM) and on WRCN (103.9FM), as well as the NHL App and on Satellite Radio.
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.
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