Monday, October 10, 2022
"The Skinny" on the Opener
By Eric Hornick
It has been nearly 5 ½ months since the Tampa Bay Lightning ended the Islanders' season for a third straight year, only this time it was in the regular season. It all begins again on Thursday.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 13th— FLORIDA AT ISLANDERS 7:30pm,
[MSGSN (pre-game at 7:00], WRHU 88.7 FM, WRCN 103.9FM, WNYM 970]
The Islanders begin their 50th anniversary season with a four-game homestand, beginning on Thursday against the President's Trophy-winning Florida Panthers. it is the first of three meetings between the teams this season; all three meetings are before Christmas. The Panthers won all three meetings last season, twice in Sunrise during the Isles' 13-game road trip and in overtime at UBS Arena in April on a goal by Aleksander Barkov.
Opening Night Skinny Notes
The Isles are 2-4-0 on Opening Night over the last six years and they are only 5-11-3 in their last 19 Openers. Overall, the Isles are 13-25-11 on Opening Night (11-20-8 on the road and 2-5-3 at home). Only four teams (all Original Six teams) have opened their season on the road more often than the Isles.
However, this season's opener is at home, and it is against the last team that the Islanders beat in a regular season opener played on home ice. Lorne Henning made his head coaching debut as the Isles opened the lockout-shortened 1995 season with a 2-1 win over the Panthers on January 21, 1995, at the Coliseum. The Isles have opened at home seven times since (six times at the Coliseum and once in Brooklyn), going 0-4-3 in the seven games. The only Islander home ice win in a season opener that occurred in October was in 1980, when the Isles beat Boston 5-2 in their first game as reigning Stanley Cup Champions. Overall, the Isles have gone 29-14-6 in their first home game of season.
The Isles 13-25-11 (.378) Opening Night record is third worst among current teams who have played multiple openers (Seattle lost their first opener last season). Anaheim has the worst record on opening night of any other team: 9-19-0 (.321).
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.
For the second straight season, the Isles will play only 26 games against the Metro this season. The Isles will host the Rangers only once (October 26th) and visit New Jersey only once (December 9th) while facing the other division foes four teams. The Isles will play each of the eight teams in the Atlantic Division three times and will play a home and home series with each Western Conference foe. Florida is one of four Atlantic Division teams that will visit UBS Arena twice: Buffalo, Detroit and Montreal will also make two appearances.
The Isles will play fifteen sets of back-to-backs including five sets on the road (including their first two road games - in Tampa and Florida on 10/22-23) and nine home/road splits. The Isles will host Detroit and Vegas on January 27-28 in their only home set of back-to-backs.
Every Day's a Home Game
The Isles will play twelve home games on Saturday, eight on Tuesday, and seven on Thursday. They will play five times on Wednesday and Friday, three times on Monday, and once on Sunday.
Schedule by Month
October (9), November (15), December (13), January (15), February (12), March (12), April (6). The Isles will complete the regular season at UBS by hosting the Canadiens on Wednesday, April 12th.
Last season, COVID postponements meant the Isles did not reach the halfway point of their schedule until February 11th; this season game 41 will be played in Calgary on January 6th.
Unlike last season, this year's schedule features few long stretches of either home or road games. The Isles will open the season with four home games and will also play five straight home games in mid-January. The Isles have a five-game trip in December and four-game trips in November and to begin 2023 in January.
After opening with the four-game homestand, the Isles will play only 14 of the next 37 at home. They will then play 23 of 41 at home in the second half of the season
Prime Time Players
The Isles will host only one matinee this season, on March 4th vs. Detroit at 12:30pm. They will play one 5:00 and six 7:00 home games, with the other 33 home games scheduled for 7:30pm. The Isles will play three road matinees this season.
Hello Again, Bye
The Bye Weeks are back on the NHL schedule and for each team will either lead into, or lead out of, the All-Star Game. After their game on January 28th, the Isles will not play again until February 6th in Philadelphia, with the All-Star festivities taking place in Sunrise on February 3rd-4th.
The 2022-23 Islanders:
The New Coach
Lane Lambert was named Head Coach of the Islanders, succeeding Barry Trotz. Lambert, who played 283 NHL games, had coached alongside Trotz in Nashville, Washington and on the Island.
Thursday will mark Lambert's first official game as an NHL head coach, although he did run the bench in January when Trotz missed games for family reasons and due to COVID. He served as a head coach of the Milwaukee Admirals (AHL) for four seasons, with his team recording over 90 points in each season.
Lambert joins Detroit's Derek Lalonde and Chicago's Luke Richardson in making his NHL head coaching debut this week.
Islander-Ranger games will take on a new tone as Lambert played 18 games for the Blueshirts, becoming the fifth Isle coach with playing experience as a Ranger (Phil Goyette, Earl Ingarfield, Peter Laviolette, and Doug Weight).
The Isles are 8-10-2 in coaching debuts, including 3-6-2 when the game is a season opener. Lorne Henning, Peter Laviolette and Barry Trotz are the Islander coaches to debut with a season-opening win.
Here is the 23-man active roster, as submitted to the NHL on Monday:
IR: Cal Clutterbuck
There are six changes from last season's opening night roster.
Nikita Soshnikov, Alexander Romanov and Robin Salo are newcomers to the Islander opening night roster while Kieffer Bellows has made the team for the second time in three seasons. Both Matt Martin and Semyon Varlamov started last season on IR and are active this season.
The newcomers replace Jakub Skarek, who starts the season in Bridgeport and Cal Clutterbuck, who is on IR. Four others: Thomas Hickey, Andy Greene, Zdeno Chara and Leo Komarov are no longer with the organization, and none of them are currently on an NHL roster.
The twenty-three active players represent five nationalities: American (Bellows, Lee, Mayfield, Nelson, Palmieri, Parise and Wahlstrom), Canadian (ten players), Swedish (Aho), Russian (Romanov, Sorokin, Soshnikov and Varlamov), and Finnish (Salo).
Old and Young
Zach Parise (7-28-1984) is now the oldest player on the roster. With Cal Clutterbuck on IR, Semyon Varlamov, Matt Martin and Josh Bailey are the only active players born in the 1980s. Oliver Wahlstrom (6-13-2000) is the youngest Islander for the third straight year; Alexander Romanov and Noah Dobson (who are born one day apart) are the only other Isles born in the 2000s.
Of the twenty-three active players, Nikita Soshnikov is "middle-age". Soshnikov, who will turn 29 on Friday is older than eleven teammates and younger than eleven others. The average Islander is 29.0 years old. Soshnikov is exactly one year younger than last season's middle-aged player, Scott Mayfield. Mayfield turns 30 on Friday.
Big and Small
Ross Johnston and Scott Mayfield are the tallest (6' 5") while Anders Lee is the heaviest (235 pounds). Sebastian Aho is the shortest (5' 11"), while Anthony Beauvillier is the lightest (180 pounds). The average Isle is 6'1 1/2" and 203 pounds.
Brock Nelson has been a fast starter during his NHL career, including on Opening Night. Nelson has five Opening Night goals, which is tied with Billy Harris (5) and Bryan Trottier (5) for second place in club history, behind Mike Bossy (7).
Isles Opening Night Leaders:
Goals: Bossy 7, Trottier/Harris/Nelson 5
Assists: Trottier 9, Gillies 7, Bourne/Persson/Bailey 5
Points: Trottier 14, Bossy 11, Nelson 9
Penalty Minutes: Rich Pilon 39, Ray Schultz 23 (in 1 game!), Duane Sutter 21
Captain, My Captain
Anders Lee will serve as the Isles' captain for the fifth straight season. He joins John Tavares as the only players in the last quarter-century to captain the Isles for five straight years. Lee is currently tied with Florida's Aleksander Barkov for the 10th-longest active tenure by a captain.
Hey, Josh Bailey
Josh Bailey starts the season seven games shy of 1,000 as he looks to join Bryan Trottier (1,123) and Denis Potvin (1,060) as the only Islanders to reach that total. Bailey is beginning his 15th season with the Isles, which ties Potvin and Trottier for the most by an Islander skater. Billy Smith played 17 seasons for the team. Only 367 skaters and three goaltenders in league history have played in 1,000 games; Minnesota's Alex Goligoski (996) could reach 1,000 prior to Bailey.
Ilya Sorokin returns for his third season. Sorokin went 13-6-3 in his rookie campaign and 26-18-8 last season. His seven shutouts last season tied the club record set by Chico Resch and equaled by Semyon Varlamov.
Semyon Varlamov was selected in the first round in 2006 (23rd overall) and has the most wins (261) and has played the most games (560) of any goaltender taken in that draft. With Braden Holtby not on an active roster, Varlamov starts the season with more games played than any goaltender drafted since 2006; his 261 wins match Frederik Andersen for most wins among the same group.
Win, Win, Win
Lou Lamoriello has won 1,363 games as a General Manager; David Poile (1,491) is the only GM with more career wins. Lou has been a GM for 2,674 games, ranking third behind David Poile (2,993) and Glen Sather (2,700). (Poile's totals exclude two wins in Europe to start this season)
A Look Back
The Isles finished the 2021-22 regular season with a 37-35-10 record but missed the playoffs for the first time in four seasons.
The Isles went 20-16-5 on UBS ice and 17-19-5 on the road.
Isles Team Leaders
Goals: Nelson 37, Lee 28, Pageau 18
Assists: Barzal 44, Dobson 38, Bailey 30
Points: Nelson 59, Barzal 59, Dobson 51
• Nelson led the Isles in goals for the third straight season, after Lee did so in the prior three seasons.
• Barzal led the team in assists for the fourth time in five seasons (Nick Leddy did so in 2020-21)
• Nelson and Barzal shared the title as the club point leader. Barzal has now led or shared the team lead in five straight seasons, matching Mike Bossy's club record.
• Dobson had 51 points; it is the first time an Islander defenseman has had 50 points since 2008-09 when Mark Streit had 56. Dobson is also the first Islander defenseman in 13 years to score at least 13 goals.
The Isles were 46-208 on the power play (22.1% - 12th) and 34-215 (84.2 -4th) on the PK. The Isles scored five shorthanded goals and allowed seven shorties.
Both special teams finished last season strong. Beginning on February 1st, the Isles home PP converted at a 38.0% rate (19-509), which is the best in the NHL in that stretch. On the season, the Isles home power play finished at 27.5%, which is the best in any season since 1984-85 (and 3rd in the NHL this season behind Toronto and Florida).
The Isles killed 50 of 57 (87.7%) over their last seventeen games and 89 of 102 in the last 32 games (87.3%). At home, the Isles have killed 47 of 54 (87.0%) since the beginning of February.
The Isles were 20-12-6 when they scored at least one power play goal and 17-23-4 when they did not. The Isles were 7-17-5 when they allowed at least one power play goal and 30-18-5 when they did not.
Three is a Magic Number
The Isles were 32-12-4 when they scored at least three goals (including shootout winners) and were 5-23-6 when they did not .
The Isles were 11-9-10 in games decided by a single goal including 8-9 in regulation. They were 1-4 in games decided in overtime and are 2-6 in shootouts. The Isles were 1-9 in games in which an empty net goal turns a 1-goal game into a 2-goal game.
The Isles were 10-7-1 in the front end and 6-11-1 in the back end last season.
Zach Parise, the only Islander to play in all 82 games last season, is the team's reigning iron-man. He would need to play every game this season and most of next to match his father's Islander streak of 240 consecutive games played, which represented his entire career with the Isles.
All-time Islander Leader Boards:
Games Played (skaters)
1. Bryan Trottier 1,123 *** 2. Denis Potvin 1,060 *** 3. Josh Bailey 993…
9. Brent Sutter 694 *** 10. Matt Martin 685 *** 11. Brock Nelson 676 *** 12. John Tavares 669 *** 13. Casey Cizikas 664 …
18. Kenny Jonsson 597 *** 19. Garry Howatt and Anders Lee 596 *** 21. John Tonelli 594 *** 22. Cal Clutterbuck 587
1. Mike Bossy 573 *** 2. Bryan Trottier 500 *** 3. Denis Potvin 310 …
9. Bobby Nystrom 235 *** 10. Anders Lee 212 *** 11. Derek King 211 *** 12. John Tonelli 206 *** 13. Brock Nelson 205 *** 14. Billy Harris 184 *** 15. Josh Bailey 176
1. Bryan Trottier 853 *** 2. Denis Potvin 742 *** 3. Mike Bossy 553 *** 4. Josh Bailey 379…
17. Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo 230 *** 19. Mathew Barzal 220 *** 20. Nick Leddy 198 *** 21. Pierre Turgeon 193 *** 22. Brock Nelson 182
1. Bryan Trottier 1,353 *** 2. Mike Bossy 1,126 *** 3. Denis Potvin 1,052…
7. Pat LaFontaine 566 *** 8. Josh Bailey 555 *** 9. John Tonelli 544 *** 10. Bob Bourne 542 …
14. Billy Harris 443 *** 15. Brock Nelson 387 *** 16. Kyle Okposo and Stefan Persson 369 *** 18. Anders Lee 366…
22. Ziggy Palffy 331 *** 23. Mathew Barzal 311
1. Bryan Trottier +467 *** 2. Denis Potvin +456 *** 3. Mike Bossy +380…
19. JP Parise +67 *** 20. Adam Pelech +62 *** 21. Jude Drouin +58 *** 22. Patrick Flatley +57 *** 23. Greg Gilbert +54 *** 24. Gord Lane +48
Same Voices, Same Places
MSG Networks will carry 71 of the Isles' 82 games this season (TNT will carry three games, ESPN will carry two games, while ESPN+/Hulu will exclusively stream six games). The newly renamed MSGSN (formerly MSG+) will carry 61 games, eight others will be on MSGSN2 and two will be on MSG.
Brendan Burke and Butch Goring partner for the seventh season; Shannon Hogan hosts Isles telecasts for her ninth season. It is Butch's 13th season in the Isles booth; by season's end he will have broadcast twice as many Isles games than he played and coached, combined.
On radio, Chris King and Greg Picker team up for the eighth 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 13th consecutive season of The Skinny as I begin my 42nd year on Islander telecasts. The Skinny streak stands at 839 consecutive games, including playoffs. Good weather and health-permitting, the 900th consecutive edition of The Skinny will appear after the February 22nd game vs. Winnipeg.
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