Wednesday, October 13, 2021
The Skinny on the Season Opener
"The Skinny" on the Opener
By Eric Hornick
It has been 104 days since the eventual champion Tampa Bay Lightning eliminated the Isles in a classic seven game semi-final match-up, as the Isles fell just five wins shy of the Stanley Cup. It all begins again on Thursday.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 14th— ISLANDERS AT CAROLINA 7:00pm,
[MSG+ (pre-game at 6:30], WRHU 88.7 FM, WRCN 103.9FM, ESPN Radio 1050]
The Islanders begin their 50th NHL season in Carolina as they face the Hurricanes for the first time since the final pre-COVID home game (March 7, 2020); it is the first of only three meetings between the division rivals this season and their only meeting until April 8th.
Opening Night Skinny Notes
The Isles are 2-3-0 on Opening Night over the last five years and they are only 5-10-3 in their last 18 Openers. Overall, the Isles are 13-24-11 on Opening Night (11-19-8 on the road). Our four teams have opened their season on the road more often than the Isles.
The Isles will play their first thirteen games on the road, before opening UBS Arena with a four-game homestand, including the building opener on November 20th at 7:00pm against the Calgary Flames.
Overall, the Isles have gone 29-13-6 in their first home game of season.
The Isles 13-24-11 (.385) Opening Night record is third worst among current teams. Anaheim has the worst record on opening night of any current team: 8-19-0 (.296).
The Isles have been involved in five shutouts on Opening Night. Chico Resch blanked the Flyers in 1976 and Semyon Varlamov had a clean sheet against the Rangers in January 2021, 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).
No Islander has ever had an opening night hat trick, but Zach Parise had one for Minnesota (in Colorado) on Opening Night, doing so on October 8, 2015.
Islander coach Barry Trotz will be behind an NHL bench on Opening Night for the 23rd time – as many as any other current NHL coach; Trotz is 11-8-3 in Openers while Florida's Joel Quenneville is 7-9-6 in his 22 Openers.
Back to Normal
The schedule returns to its normal 82-game format; after playing all 56 of their games within the East Division last season, the Isles will play only 26 games against the Metro this season. The Isles will host Carolina only once (April 24th) and visit Pittsburgh (April 14th) only once while facing the other division foes four teams. The Isles will play each of the eight teams in the Northeast Division three times and will play a home and home series with each Western Conference foe.
The Isles will play nineteen sets of back-to-backs including three sets on their opening road trip (Arizona & Vegas 10/23-24, Winnipeg and Minnesota 11/6-11/7 and Tampa and Florida on 11/15-16). The Isles will open UBS with a back-to-back on November 20 vs Calgary and November 21 vs. Toronto.
Every Day's a Home Game
The Isles will play thirteen home games on Thursday, eight on Sunday, and seven on Saturday. They will play five times on Tuesday, three times on Monday and Friday, and twice on Wednesday.
Schedule by Month
October (7), November (12), December (14), January (15), February (4), March (16), April (14). The Isles will complete the regular season at UBS by hosting the Capitals on Thursday, April 28th.
Oh, That Road Trip
The Isles will open the season with a franchise-record 13-game road trip:
• Thu Oct 14 at Carolina 7:00 PM
• Sat Oct 16 at Florida 6:00 PM
• Tue Oct 19 at Chicago 8:00 PM
• Thu Oct 21 at Columbus 7:00 PM
• Sat Oct 23 at Arizona 9:00 PM
• Sun Oct 24 at Vegas 10:00 PM
• Sat Oct 30 at Nashville 1:30 PM
• Thu Nov 04 at Montréal 7:00 PM
• Sat Nov 06 at Winnipeg 7:00 PM
• Sun Nov 07 at Minnesota 8:00 PM
• Thu Nov 11 at New Jersey 7:00 PM
• Mon Nov 15 at Tampa Bay 7:00 PM
• Tue Nov 16 at Florida 7:00 PM
By the time the Isles get home they will have played nearly one-third of their road schedule. 41 of the final 69 games will be at home.
Some factoids on the road trip:
• Ten of the first eleven games are on Thursday, Saturday, or Sunday
• The Isles will play their entire schedule in the state of Florida on this trip (three games)
• The Isles will not play consecutive games at the same Eastern time start in October
• The Isles will play games in all four time zones (six time zones total if you count "Standard Time" and "Daylight Savings Time" separately)
• There are three sets of back-to-back and three sets of at least three consecutive off-days
• The Isles will make their return to ESPN October 19th and their debut on ESPN+ November 16th. (The first TNT appearance is January 5th in Vancouver).
In addition to the 13-game trip to open the season, the Isles will open April with a 7-game trip. Those two trips will represent twenty of the Isles' 41 road games. The Isles also have 4-game trips to Seattle and Western Canada in early January and to California and Colorado right after the Olympics.
The Isles will open UBS with four-game homestands in both November and December, they will play 10 of 11 at home in a pair of 5-game stretches at home leading to the Olympics and play six straight home games in March.
The Isles will play thirteen matinees this season, including eight at UBS (the first six on Saturday and the last two on Sunday), The first matinee of the season is on October 30th in Nashville, while the first matinee at home is on December 19th vs Vegas. The second home matinee will be on New Year's Day vs Edmonton; the Isles have never won on New Year's Day (0-7-0).
Rings of Glory
The Isles will likely be well-represented on the Olympic Teams which will play in Beijing in February. With the All-Star Game immediately preceding the Olympic break, the Isles will host Ottawa on February 1st and not play again until February 24th in San Jose.
The 2021-22 Islanders:
Here is the 23-man active roster, as submitted to the NHL on Monday:
SW# Name Pos Height Weight Born Birthplace
1 JAKUB SKAREK G 6.04 205 11/10/1999 Jihlava, CZE
2 THOMAS HICKEY D 6.00 185 02/08/1989 Calgary, AB, CAN
3 ADAM PELECH D 6.03 205 08/16/1994 Toronto, ON, CAN
4 ANDY GREENE D 5.11 190 10/30/1982 Trenton, MI, USA
6 RYAN PULOCK D 6.02 215 10/06/1994 Dauphin, MB, CAN
8 NOAH DOBSON D 6.04 195 01/07/2000 Summerside, PE, CAN
11 ZACH PARISE LW 5.11 193 07/28/1984 Minneapolis, MN, USA
12 JOSH BAILEY C 6.01 200 10/02/1989 Bowmanville, ON, CAN
13 MATHEW BARZAL C 6.01 187 05/26/1997 Coquitlam, BC, CAN
15 CAL CLUTTERBUCK RW 6.00 212 11/18/1987 Welland, ON, CAN
18 ANTHONY BEAUVILLIER LW 5.11 180 06/08/1997 Sorel-Tracy, QC, CAN
21 KYLE PALMIERI C 5.11 185 02/01/1991 Smithtown, NY, USA
24 SCOTT MAYFIELD D 6.05 220 10/14/1992 St. Louis, MO, USA
25 SEBASTIAN AHO D 5.11 184 02/17/1996 Umea, SWE
26 OLIVER WAHLSTROM RW 6.02 205 06/13/2000 Quincy, MA, USA
27 ANDERS LEE C 6.03 235 07/03/1990 Edina, MN, USA
29 BROCK NELSON C 6.04 212 10/15/1991 Warroad, MN, USA
30 ILYA SOROKIN G 6.03 190 08/04/1995 Mezhdurechensk, RUS
32 ROSS JOHNSTON LW 6.05 232 02/18/1994 Charlottetown, PE,CAN
33 ZDENO CHARA D 6.09 250 03/18/1977 Trencin, SVK
44 JEAN-GABRIEL PAGEAU C 5.11 180 11/11/1992 Ottawa, ON, CAN
47 LEO KOMAROV C 5.11 205 01/23/1987 Narva, EST
53 CASEY CIZIKAS C 5.11 195 02/27/1991 Toronto, ON, CAN
Note that Johnny Boychuk (LTIR), Matt Martin, and Semyon Varlamov (IR) are not part of the season-opening roster, nor is Cory Schneider, who signed on Tuesday. However, roster movements are possible before the Isles play on Thursday.
The twenty-three active players represent seven nationalities: American (Greene, Lee, Mayfield, Nelson, Palmieri, Parise and Wahlstrom), Canadian (eleven players), Swedish (Aho), Russian (Sorokin and Varlamov), Slovakian (Chara), Czech (Skarek) and Estonian (Komarov).
Old and Young
Zdeno Chara returns to the Islanders and is the oldest player on the roster (3-18-1977). Andy Greene (10-30-1982) is the only other Islander born before 1984. Oliver Wahlstrom (6-13-2000) is the youngest Islander for the second straight year.
Of the twenty-three players, Scott Mayfield is "middle-age". Mayfield, who will turn 29 on opening night is older than eleven teammates and younger than eleven others. The average Islander is 29.6 years old, making them the oldest team in the NHL
Big and Small
Zdeno Chara is the tallest (6'9") and heaviest (250 pounds). Eight current players are listed as 5' 11", while Jean Gabriel Pageau and Anthony Beauvillier are 180 pounds. The average Isle is 6'2", and 203 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).
Captain, My Captain
Anders Lee will serve as the Isles' captain for the fourth straight season. He joins John Tavares as the only players in the last quarter-century to captain the Isles for four straight years
Welcome home, Big Z
Zdeno Chara signed with the Isles as a free agent; he will play his first game for the team since April 7, 2001. When he touches the ice Big Z will end the longest streak between appearances for a professional sports team in North America and become only the seventh player to appear in 24 NHL seasons. (Joe Thornton is also looking to appear in his 24th season and could play against Chara on Saturday).
Chara has played 1,608 games, four behind Ray Bourque for 12th on the all-time list. Chris Chelios (1,651) and Larry Murphy (1,615) are the only other defensemen to appear in more NHL games.
Chara leads all active players with a +293 rating (including -61 with the Islanders); Chara has been on-ice for 1,780 goals allowed – most of any active player and 10th all-time (the nine players ahead of him are all in the Hockey Hall of Fame).
Dad Must Be Smiling
Zach Parise joins the Islanders needing just seven goals to reach the NHL milestone award total of 400. His father JP scored the most famous goal in the pre-Cup era of the Islanders, eliminating the Rangers at :11 of overtime in the third and deciding game of their 1975 playoff series. JP Parise played 240 games as an Islander (all consecutive); his last game with the team was on January 7, 1978.
Semyon Varlamov was selected in the first round in 2006 (23rd overall) and has the most wins (251) and has played the most games (529) of any goaltender taken in that draft.
Varlamov is not expected to start on Opening Night, after playing in ten straight Openers (two for the Islanders). Entering this season, only Jonathan Quick (12) had an active streak longer than Varly.
Ilya Sorokin, now 26, returns for his second season. Sorokin went 13-6-3 in his rookie campaign and then went 4-1 in the playoffs.
Head Coach Barry Trotz begins his fourth 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 third season as an assistant coach.
Keeping Great Company
Entering the 2021-22 season, Barry Trotz ranks third in NHL history in wins (877) and third in games coached (1,730). Trotz also ranks second among active head coaches in wins and games coached to Joel Quenneville's 962 wins and 1,761 games.
Win, Win, Win
Lou Lamoriello has won 1,326 games as a General Manager; David Poile (1,446) is the only GM with more career wins. Lou has been a GM for 2,592 games, ranking third behind David Poile (2,911) and Glen Sather (2,700).
A Look Back
The Isles finished the 2020-21 regular season with a 32-17-7 record; they then advanced to the Stanley Cup Semi-Final by eliminating Pittsburgh and Boston in the 2021 Playoffs.
The Isles went 21-4-3 on Coliseum ice and 11-13-4 on the road.
The Isles were 27-144 on the power play (18.8% - 20th) and 22--135 (83.7% -tied-6th) on the PK. The Isles scored four shorthanded goals and did not allow a shorty.
The Isles were 18-12-3 when they scored at least one power play goal and 14-5-4 when they did not. The Isles were 26-7-4 when they allowed at least one power play goal and 6-10-3 when they did not.
Three is a Magic Number
The Isles were 24-4-4 when they scored at least three goals (including shootout winners) and were 8-13-3 when they did not. Under Barry Trotz, the Isles are 91-9-11 when scoring three or more.
The Isles were 14-6-7 in games decided by a single goal including 6-6 in regulation. They were 4-4 in games decided by an overtime goal and were 4-3 in shootouts. The Isles were 0-1 in games in which an empty-net goal turns a 1-goal game into a 2-goal game.
The Isles were 4-2-2 in the front-half and 4-2-2 in the back-half last season. Under Barry Trotz, the Isles are 21-4-4 (.793) in back-ends. This is by far the best record of any NHL team in back-ends during this stretch. Tampa Bay has the next best record: 20-9-3 (.672).
Iron Man Club
Brock Nelson has played in 301 consecutive games and Ryan Pulock in 251; both have appeared in every game since Barry Trotz became the Isles' coach. By appearing on Opening Night, Nelson would pass Bobby Nystrom for 2nd place on the all-time Isles list.
Brock Nelson has tied Bobby Nystrom for the 2nd-longest streak while Ryan Pulock is 8th:
1. Billy Harris 10/7/1972 -11/30/1979 576 (*)
2. Bobby Nystrom 1/7/1975 - 11/25/1978 301
Brock Nelson 3/16/2017 – CURRENT 301
4. Anders Lee 1/26/2017 – 3/13/2021 295
5. Mathew Barzal 10/6/2017- 5/3/2021 284
Matt Moulson 10/3/2009 - 4/4/2013 284
7. Denis Potvin 11/29/1975 - 1/17/1979 262
8. Ryan Pulock 12/29/2017 – CURRENT 251
9. John Tavares 10/16/2010 - 12/23/2013 246
10. J.P. Parise 1/7/1975 – 1/7/1978 240 (**)
(*) Start of NHL career.
(**) Entire career with Islanders
Pulock's streak is the 2nd-longest by an Islander defenseman, trailing only Denis Potvin's 262-game streak.
All-time Islander Leader Boards:
Games Played (skaters)
1. Bryan Trottier 1,123 *** 2. Denis Potvin 1,060 *** 3. Josh Bailey 919…
13. Stefan Persson 622 *** 14. Matt Martin 614 *** 15. Frans Nielsen 606 *** 16. Brock Nelson 604 *** 17. Kenny Jonsson 597 *** 18. Garry Howatt 596 *** 19. John Tonelli 594 *** 20. Casey Cizikas 590 …
27. Kyle Okposo 529 *** 28. Cal Clutterbuck 528 *** 29. Anders Lee 520
1. Mike Bossy 573 *** 2. Bryan Trottier 500 *** 3. Denis Potvin 310 …
11. John Tonelli 206 *** 12. Billy Harris and Anders Lee 184 *** 14. Ziggy Palffy and Brock Nelson 168 *** 16. Josh Bailey 162
1. Bryan Trottier 853 *** 2. Denis Potvin 742 *** 3. Mike Bossy 553 ***
4. Clark Gillies 359 *** 5. Josh Bailey and John Tavares 349
1. Bryan Trottier 1,353 *** 2. Mike Bossy 1,126 *** 3. Denis Potvin 1,052…
9. Bob Bourne 542 *** 10. Bob Nystrom 513 *** 11. Josh Bailey 511…
20. Ziggy Palffy 331 *** 21. Brock Nelson 327 *** 22. Anders Lee 320
1. Al Arbour 1,500 *** 2. Jack Capuano 483 *** 3. Barry Trotz 206
1. Al Arbour 740 *** 2. Jack Capuano 227 *** 3. Barry Trotz 115
Same Voices, Same Places
MSG Networks will carry 70 of the Isles' 82 games this season (TNT will carry four games, ESPN will carry two games, while ESPN+ will exclusively stream six games). Brendan Burke and Butch Goring partner for the sixth season; Shannon Hogan hosts Isles telecasts for her eighth season. It is Butch's 12th anniversary in the Isles booth; he has broadcast far more Isles games than he played and coached, combined.
On radio, Chris King and Greg Picker team up for the seven 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 12th consecutive season of The Skinny as I begin my 41st year on Islander telecasts. The Skinny streak stands at 757 consecutive games, including playoffs. Good weather and health-permitting, the 800th consecutive edition of The Skinny will appear after the January 21st game vs. Arizona – the 40th anniversary of my debut telecast.
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