"The Skinny" on the Opener
By Eric Hornick
It has been seventeen weeks since Anthony Cirelli's overtime goal burst the Islanders' bubble and ended the most successful Islander post-season in a generation just six wins shy of the Stanley Cup. It all begins again on Thursday.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 14th— ISLANDERS AT RANGERS 7:00pm,
[MSG+2 (pre-game at 6:30], WRHU 88.7 FM, WRCN 103.9FM, ESPN Radio 1050]
The Islanders begin their 49th NHL season at Madison Square Garden in the first two of eight meetings this season with the rival Rangers. The teams will also meet in Manhattan on Saturday.
The Isles went 1-2-1 against the Rangers last season. Alexander Georgiev was in goal for all three Ranger wins. This will be the first meeting of the teams in regular season play since the Blueshirts spoiled Jean-Gabriel Pageau's Islander debut with a 4-3 overtime win last February 25th.
For the first time since 2005 (Kevin Weekes), Henrik Lundqvist will not be in goal for a Ranger opener. Best wishes to The King in his recovery from his heart surgery.
Opening Night Skinny Notes
The Isles are 1-3-0 on Opening Night over the last four years and they are only 4-10-3 in their last 17 Openers. Overall, the Isles are 12-24-11 on Opening Night (10-19-8 on the road).
The Islander home opener will be on Monday, January 18th at 5pm against the Boston Bruins.
Overall, the Isles have gone 28-13-6 in home openers, including 26-12-5 at the Coliseum.
This will be the third-latest season-opener in Islander history (January 21, 1995 and January 19, 2013 – both were at home) and will end the second-longest gap (310 days) between regular season games in club history (549 days is the record due to the 2004-05 season lockout).
The Isles 12-24-11 (.372) Opening Night record is tied-2nd worst (with the Flames) among current teams. Anaheim has the worst record on opening night of any current team: 8-18-0 (.308).
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 22nd time – as many as any other current NHL coach; Trotz is 10-8-3 in Openers while Florida's Joel Quenneville is 6-9-6 in his 21 Openers. Lindy Ruff will coach his 20th Opener (and first with New Jersey).
It Is The Skinny, After All
For the sixth time in the last seven years, the Isles and Rangers will play on either January 12th, 13th, or 14th. The Isles are 3-2-0 in the previous five, winning in 2015, 2016 and 2018 and losing in 2019 and 2020.
Every Night is Rivalry Night
The Isles will play in the newly constructed East Division this season; they will play each of the other seven teams in the division eight times. Older fans who remember the Patrick Division days will see that Division reunited as the Devils, Rangers, Flyers, Capitals, and Penguins are also in the East; the Isles are in the same division as the Sabres and Bruins for the first time since 1973-74.
The Isles will play only eight sets of back-to-backs, and six of them will be played against the same opponent in the same building. Five of the six same-opponent sets will be on the road (at Philadelphia, at Buffalo, at Washington, at Pittsburgh and at Buffalo again); Pittsburgh will be at the Coliseum on February 27th and 28th. The Isles will host one set of back-to-backs against different opponents (April 8th vs. Philadelphia and April 9th vs. the Rangers) and will host Washington on April 24th and play in Philadelphia the next night.
Twenty-two of the Isles' 28 home games will follow the traditional Tuesday (4), Thursday (10), Saturday (8) schedule. They will also play three home games on Sunday, two home games on Friday and one (the home opener) on a Monday. The Isles are not scheduled to play at home or on the road on a Wednesday.
Schedule by Month
January (9), February (14), March (13), April (15), May (5). Prior to this season, the Isles had played only one regular season game in May in their history (May 2, 1995 vs. Philadelphia). The Isles will complete the regular season at the Coliseum by hosting the Devils on Saturday, May 8th.
The Isles have two lengthy homestands; they play seven straight games in February/March and then open April with six straight Coliseum matchups. The Isles will close January with five straight road games and will also play five straight in mid-February.
Pair of Breaks
The Isles will have a pair of four-day stretches without a game, going idle March 1-4 and March 21-24. Other than that, the Isles will not have more than two consecutive off-days during the season.
The Isles will play only two matinees this season. All 56 games will begin at 7pm or earlier.
The 2020-21 Islanders:
A Different 23
The Islander 23-man roster looks a bit different than Opening Night last year as there are five players on this year's Opening 23 that were not on the Opening 23 last season: JG Pageau and Andy Greene (who both were acquired in February), Sebastian Aho, Oliver Wahlstrom, and Thomas Hickey. Michael Dal Colle is on Injured Reserve, Johnny Boychuk is on Long-Term Injured Reserve, and Tom Kuhnhackl is an unrestricted free agent while Derek Brassard, Devon Toews and Thomas Greiss are no longer with the organization.
The 23 active players represent five nationalities: American (Greene, Leddy, Lee, Mayfield, Nelson, Wahlstrom), Canadian (thirteen players), Swedish (Aho), Russian (Sorokin and Varlamov) and Estonian (Komarov).
Old and Young
Andy Greene (10-30-1982) remains the oldest player on the current roster and is the only Islander born before 1987. Oliver Wahlstrom (6-13-2000) is the youngest Islander.
Of the 23 players, Brock Nelson is "middle-age". Leddy, born October 15, 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"; Jean Gabriel Pageau and Sebastian Aho are listed at 5'10". Johnston and Anders Lee are both listed at 235 pounds while Pageau is 180 pounds. The average Isle is 6'1", and 203 pounds.
The Isles have named four players to the taxi squad: Kieffer Bellows, Austin Czarnik, Otto Koivula and Jakub Skarek.
Brock-tober (in January)
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).
Captain, My Captain
Anders Lee will serve as the Isles' captain for the third straight season. He joins Michael Peca and John Tavares as the only players in the last quarter-century to captain the Isles for three straight years
Semyon Varlamov was selected in the first round in 2006 (23rd overall) and has the most wins (232) and has played the most games (493) of any goaltender taken in that draft.
Varlamov is expected to start on Opening Night for the 10th straight season (and second for the Islanders). Entering this season, only Marc-Andre Fleury (14), Mike Smith (12), Jonathan Quick (11) and Pekka Rinne (10) had active streaks longer than Varly.
He's Finally Here
Ilya Sorokin was signed over the summer and is expected to dress for the season opener. Sorokin is coming off a season in the KHL where he compiled a 1.50 GAA in the regular season and then allowed only three goals in four playoff games before COVID-19 interrupted the KHL playoffs.
Stanley Cup Champion Head Coach Barry Trotz begins his third season with the Isles as do assistant coaches Lane Lambert and Jon Gruden, goaltender coach Piero Greco, special assignment coach Jacques Lemaire and director of goaltending Mitch Korn. Jim Hiller returns for his second season as an assistant coach.
Keeping Great Company
Entering the 2020-21 season, Barry Trotz ranks fourth in NHL history in wins (845, just four behind Ken Hitchcock) and third in games coached (1,674). Trotz also ranks second among active head coaches in wins and games coached to Joel Quenneville's 925 wins and 1,705 games.
Win, Win, Win
Lou Lamoriello begins his third 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 1,294-904-179-159 in 2,536 games.
A Look Back
The Isles finished the 2019-20 regular season with a 35-23-10 record; they then advanced to the Eastern Conference Final by eliminating Florida, Washington, and Philadelphia in the 2020 Playoffs.
The Isles went 13-8-3 on Coliseum ice and 7-1-3 at Barclays Center last season; they were 15-14-4 on the road.
The Isles were 11-7-4 in Division games and 24-16-6 in games versus other divisions. The Isles were 25-13-5 against the East and 10-10-5 against the West.
The Isles were 29-168 on the power play (17.3% - tied/24th) and 34-176 (80.7% -15th) on the PK. The Isles scored 6 shorthanded goals and allowed five shorties.
The Isles were 13-7-3 when they scored at least one power play goal and 22-16-7 when they did not. The Isles were 14-9-4 when they allowed at least one power play goal and 21-14-6 when they did not.
Three is a Magic Number
The Isles were 31-3-5 when they scored at least three goals (including shootout winners) and were 4-20-5 when they do not. Under Barry Trotz, the Isles are 67-5-7 when scoring three or more.
The Isles were 16-7-10 in games decided by a single goal including 5-7 in regulation. They were 8-7 in games decided in overtime and are 3-3 in shootouts. The Isles were 5-3 in games in which an empty-net goal turns a 1-goal game into a 2-goal game.
The Isles were 5-3-0 in the front-half and 6-1-1 in the back-half. The Under Barry Trotz, the Isles are 17-2-2 in back-ends.
200 Game Club
The Isles have three players who have active consecutive game streaks of at least 200 games, and they are three of just 25 players in the NHL who have played every game since the start of the 2017-18 season. It is the first time since November 25, 1978 that the Isles have had three players with streaks of at least 200 games.
Ironman Streaks: Anders Lee 268, Brock Nelson 245, Mathew Barzal 232, Ryan Pulock 195, Josh Bailey 153, Anthony Beauvillier 143.
Anders Lee has the fourth-longest consecutive game streak while Brock Nelson and Mathew Barzal have also moved into the top 10:
1. Billy Harris 10/7/1972 -11/30/1979 576 (*)
2. Bobby Nystrom 1/7/1975 - 11/25/1978 301
3. Matt Moulson 10/3/2009 - 4/4/2013 284
4. Anders Lee 1/26/2017 – CURRENT 268
5. Denis Potvin 11/29/1975 - 1/17/1979 262
6. John Tavares 10/16/2010 - 12/23/2013 246
7. Brock Nelson 3/16/2017 – CURRENT 245
8. J.P. Parise 1/7/1975 – 1/7/1978 240 (**)
9. Mathew Barzal 10/6/2017- CURRENT 232
10. Richard Park 10/5/2006 - 2/18/2009 221
(*) Start of NHL career.
(**) Entire career with Islanders
Ryan Pulock has the fourth-longest consecutive game streak of any defenseman in Islander history:
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. Ryan Pulock 12/29/2017 – CURRENT 195
(*) Start of NHL career.
(**) Entire career with Islanders
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. Josh Bailey 865…
17. John Tonelli 594 *** 18. Matt Martin 560 *** 19. Ken Morrow 550 *** 20. Brock Nelson 548 *** 21. Duane Sutter 547 *** 22. Lorne Henning 543 *** 23. Claude Lapointe 535 *** 24. Casey Cizikas 534
1. Mike Bossy 573 *** 2. Bryan Trottier 500 *** 3. Denis Potvin 310 …
12. Billy Harris 184 *** 13. Anders Lee 172 *** 14. Ziggy Palffy 168 *** 15. Patrick Flatley 160 *** 16. Josh Bailey 154 *** 17. Brock Nelson 150
1. Bryan Trottier 853 *** 2. Denis Potvin 742 *** 3. Mike Bossy 553…
6. John Tonelli 338 *** 7. Pat Flatley 328 *** 8. Brent Sutter 323 *** 9. Josh Bailey 322 …
20. Ed Westfall 181 *** 21. Kenny Jonsson 175 *** 22. Duane Sutter and Alexei Yashin 171*** 24. Nick Leddy 169
1. Bryan Trottier 1353 *** 2. Mike Bossy 1126 *** 3. Denis Potvin 1052…
11. Derek King 499 *** 12. Patrick Flatley 488 *** 13. Josh Bailey 476…
20. Ziggy Palffy 331 *** 21. Anders Lee 301 ***22. Mariusz Czerkawski and Brock Nelson 295
1. Al Arbour 1,500 *** 2. Jack Capuano 483 *** 3. Mike Milbury 192 …
6. Peter Laviolette 164 *** 7. Ted Nolan 163 *** 8. Butch Goring 154 *** 9. Barry Trotz 150
1. Al Arbour 740 *** 2. Jack Capuano 227 *** 3. Barry Trotz 82
Same Voices, Same Places
MSG Networks will carry 50 of the Isles' 56 games this season (NBCSN will carry five games and the March 7th game with Buffalo will be on NBC). Brendan Burke (who has called the last 246 Islander regular season games) and Butch Goring partner for the fifth season; Shannon Hogan hosts Isles telecasts for the 7th season. It is Butch's 11th anniversary in the Isles booth; he has broadcast far more Isles games than he played and coached, combined. AJ Mleczko will also appear on Isles telecasts for the third straight year.
On radio, Chris King and Greg Picker team up for the sixth 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).
We begin the 11th consecutive season of The Skinny as I begin my 40th year on Islander telecasts. The Skinny streak stands at 682 consecutive games, including playoffs.
Eric Hornick has been the statistician on Islander home game telecasts since January 21, 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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