Thursday, October 03, 2019
The Skinny on the Season Opener
By Eric Hornick
It's been five months and a day since the Carolina Hurricanes ended the first season of the Lou Lamoriello-Barry Trotz era with a second-round sweep of the Isles. The drive to go further begins on Friday.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 4th— WASHINGTON AT ISLANDERS (NASSAU COLISEUM) 7:00PM
[MSG+ (Islanders pre-game at 6:30pm), 88.7 WRHU-FM, WRCN 103.9FM, ESPN 1050]
The Islanders begin their 48th NHL season in the building that they played their first 43 as they welcome the Washington Capitals to the Coliseum. It's only the second time that the Isles will open a season against Washington (doing so in 2003, a 6-1 loss) and completes a multi-season home-and-home series that began on April 6th in Washington.
That April 6th game, a 3-0 Isles win, completed a season series in which the road team won all four games. The Isles scored only two goals in two home losses but blanked the Caps in both games in DC.
This is the first of 28 home games (seven more than last season) that the Isles will play in Uniondale; they won't play a game in Brooklyn until Election Night (November 5th vs. Ottawa).
The Isles are 3-2-1 on Opening Night over the last five years; however, they are only 4-9-3 in their last 16 Openers. Overall, the Isles are 12-23-11 on Opening Night (2-4-3 at home). Overall, the Isles have gone 28-12-6 in home openers, including 26-11-5 at the Coliseum.
This is the sixth time that the Isles will open a season on October 4th. The five previous games were on the road, with the Isles going 2-3-0 with a 2013 shootout victory in New Jersey and an overtime win in Carolina last season.
The last time the Isles' home opener was at the Coliseum was on October 11, 2014 vs. Carolina (4-3 win); the last season-opener at the Coliseum was on January 19, 2013 vs. New Jersey (2-1 loss).
The Capitals opened their season on Wednesday in St. Louis with a come-from-behind 3-2 overtime win.
Opening Night Skinny:
The Isles 12-23-11 (.380) Opening Night record is tied-3rd worst (with the Flames) among current teams. Anaheim has the worst record on opening night of any current team: 7-18-0 (.850).
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) in 2017) turned the trick on the Isles.
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).
Islander coach Barry Trotz will be behind an NHL bench on Opening Night for the 21th time – as many as any other current NHL coach; Trotz is 10-7-3 in Openers while Florida's Joel Quenneville is 6-8-6 in his 20 Openers.
The Isles will play only 11 sets of back-to-backs (two fewer than last season). The first back-to-back will be on October 11th in Carolina and at the Coliseum vs. Florida on October 12th.
The Isles will play two road back-to-backs, four home-road back-to-backs, and six road-home back-to-backs.
The Isles went 8-4-1 in the front half and 11-1-1 in the back half last season, with the only regulation loss on the back end coming against the Caps in the game following John Tavares' first game back on Long Island. As recently as 2013-14, the Isles played 18 sets of back-to-backs.
Thirty of the Isles' 41 home games will follow the traditional Tuesday (10), Thursday (9), Saturday (11) schedule. They will also play four home games on Sunday, three home games on Monday and Friday and one (November 13 vs. Toronto) on Wednesday.
The 2019-20 schedule features twelve afternoon games, including eight at home. The first matinee will be at the Coliseum on Columbus Day against the Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues, while the remaining seven home matinees will be on Saturdays. The Isles will also host two 5:00 Sunday games (February 23rd vs. San Jose and March 22nd vs. Carolina); the NHL will consider these to be night games.
Schedule by Month
October (11), November (13), December (14), January (11), February (15), March (16), April (2)
The Isles have only one homestand of at least four games, from November 5th to November 13th. They have two 4-game road trips: in February they head to Nashville and the Southwest while they visit Western Canada and Pittsburgh in March.
The Isles will play seven games in an 11-day stretch in mid-January. The Isles will also play eight games in a 13-day stretch in March before ending the season with seven games in the season's final twelve days.
The Isles will host Boston on February 29, 2020, marking only the 5th Leap Day game in club history. The Isles have won only once on Leaf Day, in 1984, when both Patrick Flatley and Pat LaFontaine made their Isles debuts in a victory in Winnipeg.
The 2019-20 Islanders:
Lots of New Faces
The Islander 23-man roster looks a lot different than Opening Night last year as there are five newcomers (Derick Brassard, Michael Dal Colle, Noah Dobson, Devon Toews and Semyon Varlamov); Thomas Hickey and Tanner Fritz begin the season at Bridgeport, Luca Sbisa is an unrestricted free agent while Robin Lehner and Valtteri Filppula are no longer with the organization. Andrew Ladd is on Injured Reserve to start the season (as he was at the start of last season).
The 23 active players represent five nationalities: American (Leddy, Lee, Mayfield, Nelson), Canadian (fifteen players), German (Greiss and Kuhnhackl), Russian (Varlamov) and Estonian (Komarov).
Old and Young
Johnny Boychuk (1-19-84) remains the oldest player on the current roster. For the first time in his four seasons, Anthony Beauvillier, who turned 22 on June 8th, is not the youngest Islander. He is nearly 31 months older than Noah Dobson (1-7-2000), who will become the first Islander born in the 2000s to appear in an NHL game.
Of the 23 players, Nick Leddy is "middle-age". Leddy, born March 20, 1991 is older than 11 teammates and younger than 11 others. The average Islander is 28 years old.
Big and Small
Scott Mayfield and Ross Johnston are both listed at 6'5"; five Isles are listed at 5'11". Johnston is listed at 235 pounds while Anthony Beauvillier is 182 pounds. The average Isle is 6'2", and 208 pounds.
Brock Nelson has been a fast starter during his NHL career, including on Opening Night. Nelson has three Opening Night goals, which is the most by any Islander since Derek King (4). He is 23-21-44 in 60 career October games, tallying more goals and more points than in any other month.
When Noah Dobson makes his NHL debut, he will become the first teenage Islander defenseman since Mathieu Biron in the 1999-2000 season. Biron's NHL debut came on October 14, 1999 against Atlanta; Dobson was born twelve weeks later. No teenage defenseman has played on Opening Night for the Isles since Eric Brewer did so against Pittsburgh on October 10, 1998.
Make it 75
Derick Brassard will become the 75th player to appear for both the Islanders and Rangers. Brassard went 69-105-174 in 254 games over 3+ seasons with the Blueshirts. Brassard was the 6th overall pick in 2006; the Isles selected Kyle Okposo with the following pick.
Semyon Varlamov was also taken in the first round in 2006 (23rd overall) and has the most wins (213) of any goaltender taken in that draft. He is one of three goalies drafted in the first round by Washington, joining Olaf Kolzig and Ilya Samsonov (who is expected to make his NHL debut against the Isles on Friday). Varlamov has won 213 NHL games (81st all-time).
Stanley Cup Champion Head Coach Barry Trotz begins his second season with the Isles as do assistant Lane Lambert, Jon Gruden, goaltender coach Piero Greco, special assignment coach Jacques Lemaire and director of goaltending Mitch Korn. Jim Hiller has joined the staff as an assistant coach.
Keeping Great Company
Entering the 2019-20 season, Barry Trotz ranks fourth in NHL history in wins (810) and games coached (1,606). Trotz also ranks second among active head coaches in wins and games coached to Joel Quenneville's 890 wins and 1636 games. Trotz will tie Al Arbour in games coached on Opening Night and will pass him on Sunday. He already has recorded 28 more wins than Arbour's total of 782.
Win, Win, Win
Lou Lamoriello begins his second season as the Islander President and General Manager. Including 27 seasons in New Jersey and three seasons in Toronto, Lou's teams have combined to go 1,259-881-179-149 in 2,468 games; his 2,500th game as an NHL general manager will be on December 17th vs. Nashville.
A Look Back
The Isles finished the 2018-19 regular season with a 48-27-7 record; their 103 points was their highest total in the post-Cup era. The Isles went 34-15-3 in their final 52 games and finished one point behind Washington in the Metropolitan Division standings.
The Isles went 24-13-4 at home (12-7-2 on Long Island and 12-6-2 in Brooklyn) and 24-14-3 on the road.
It was the first time in club history that they won at least 24 games both at home and on the road in the same season.
Thomas Greiss won 23 games last season. He is only the fourth goalie in club history to have at least three 23-win seasons, joining Glenn Resch (5), Rick DiPietro (4), and Billy Smith (3).
The Best (Fourth) Line in Hockey
The Isles were 35-16-6 last season when Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck all play and were 13-11-1 when one or more missed a game.
Anders Lee 200, Brock Nelson 177, Mathew Barzal 164, Ryan Pulock 137, Josh Bailey 85, Leo Komarov (84 overall, 82 with Isles) and Nick Leddy (82).
A club-record seven players appeared in every game last season. It was also the first time since 1996-97 (Bryan McCabe and Bryan Berard) that the Isles have had two defensemen appear in every game.
Ryan Pulock is only the 6th defenseman in Islander history to play at least 137 consecutive regular season games:
1. Denis Potvin 11/29/1975-1/17/1979 262
2. Bryan McCabe 10/7/1995-2/4/1998 220 (*) (**)
3. Gerry Hart 3/1/1975-11/22/1977 198
4. Andrew MacDonald 12/19/2011- 3/2/2014 164 (**)
5. Nick Leddy 10/23/2016 – 3/26/2018 153
6. Ryan Pulock 12/29/2017 – CURRENT (137)
(*) Start of NHL career
(**) Entire career with Islanders
In Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin, the Isles have two of the NHL's five all-time leading hitters (since the NHL began recording hits in 2005-06). Clutterbuck is 2nd all-time (3,015) while Martin is 5th (2,750). Dustin Brown is the NHL record holder with 3,316.
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.
All-time Islander Leader Boards:
Games Played (skaters)
1. Bryan Trottier 1123 *** 2. Denis Potvin 1060 *** 3. Bob Nystrom 900 *** 4. Clark Gillies 872 ***
5. Bob Bourne 814***6. Josh Bailey 797
1. Mike Bossy 573 *** 2. Bryan Trottier 500 *** 3. Denis Potvin 310 …
14. Patrick Flatley 160 *** 15. Anders Lee 152 …
17. Mariusz Czerkawski 145 *** 18. Josh Bailey 140…
20. Jason Blake 127 *** 21. Brock Nelson 124
1. Bryan Trottier 853 *** 2. Denis Potvin 742 *** 3. Mike Bossy 553…
9. Stefan Persson 317 *** 10. Bob Bourne 304 *** 11. Josh Bailey 293 …
26. Ziggy Palffy 163 *** 27. David Volek 154 *** 28. Nick Leddy 151
1. Bryan Trottier 1353 *** 2. Mike Bossy 1126 *** 3. Denis Potvin 1052…
12. Patrick Flatley 488 *** 13. Billy Harris 443 *** 14. Josh Bailey 433…
24.. Ed Westfall 286 *** 25. Steve Thomas, Jason Blake and Anders Lee 258
Games Played (Goalies)
1. Billy Smith 674 *** 2. Rick DiPietro 318 *** 3. Glenn Resch 282 …
6. Jaroslav Halak 177 *** 7. Glenn Healy 176 *** 8. Thomas Greiss 162
1. Billy Smith 304 *** 2. Glenn Resch 157 *** 3. Rick DiPietro 130*** 4. Kelly Hrudey 108***
5. Jaroslav Halak 88 *** 6. Thomas Greiss 85
1. Glenn Resch 25 ***2. Billy Smith 22 *** 3. Rick DiPietro 16 *** 4. Tommy Salo 14***
5. Jaroslav Halak 12 *** 6. Thomas Greiss 10
Same Voices, (Mostly) Same Places
MSG Networks will carry 80 of the Isles' 82 games this season (NBCSN has the January 2nd game vs. New Jersey and the February 11th game vs. Philadelphia). Brendan Burke (who has called the last 178 Islander regular season games) and Butch Goring partner for the fourth season; Shannon Hogan hosts Isles telecasts for the 6th season. Butch is celebrating his 10th anniversary in the Isles booth; he has broadcast far more Isles games than he played and coached, combined. AJ Mleczko and Jen Botterill will also appear on Isles telecasts for the second straight year.
On radio, Chris King and Greg Picker team up for the fifth 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. Most games this season will also air on ESPN Radio in New York City (either on 1050AM or 98.7FM)
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.