Thursday, October 12, 2023
The Skinny on the Season Opener
"The Skinny" on the Opener
By Eric Hornick
It has been nearly 5 ½ months since the Carolina Hurricanes ended the Islanders' season in a six-game playoff series. After watching 30 of the other 31 teams start their season between Tuesday and Friday, the Isles finally get their shot on Saturday.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 14th— BUFFALO AT ISLANDERS 7:30pm,
[MSGSN (pre-game at 7:00], WRHU 88.7 FM, WRCN 103.9FM, ESPN Radio]
The Islanders begin their 52nd season with a three-game homestand, beginning on Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres. it is the first of three meetings between the teams this season, with two of the three occurring in the next eight days. The Isles went 1-1-1 against Buffalo last season, including a split of two games in March at UBS Arena; the Sabres' victory on March 25th ended an Islander 11-game home-winning streak against Buffalo. .
Opening Night Skinny Notes
The Isles are 2-5-0 on Opening Night over the last seven years and they are only 5-12-3 in their last 20 Openers. Overall, the Isles are 13-26-11 on Opening Night (11-20-8 on the road and 2-6-3 at home). Only four teams (all Original Six teams) have opened their season on the road more often than the Isles.
It is the sixth time that the Isles will open their season against the Sabres (Buffalo opened their season with a loss at home on Thursday). The other five were all in Buffalo, with the Isles going 1-3-1, including a tie in 1978.
However, this season's opener is at home, and the Isles will be looking to start the season with a home-ice win on Opening Night for the first time since January 21, 1995. The Isles have opened at home eight times since (six times at the Coliseum, once in Brooklyn and once at UBS Arena), going 0-5-3 in the eight 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 29-15-6 in their first home game of season.
The Isles 13-26-11 (.370) Opening Night record is the second-worst among current teams who have played more than three openers (Seattle is 0-2-1, including their loss on Tuesday). Anaheim has the worst record on opening night of any other team: 10-19-0 (.345).
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; twelve Isles have scored twice in an Opener, with Brock Nelson (2014) and Anders Lee (January 2021) being the two players on the current roster to have done so.
For the third straight season, the Isles will play only 26 games against the Metro this season. The Isles will host Columbus only once (December 7th) and visit Philadelphia only once (April 1st) 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. Boston, Ottawa, Toronto, and Tampa Bay are the four Atlantic Division teams that will visit UBS Arena twice: the Isles will play twice in Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, and Montreal.
The Isles will play only ten sets of back-to-backs including three sets on the and six home/road splits. The Isles will host Winnipeg and New Jersey on March 23-24 in their only home set of back-to-backs.
Every Day's a Home Game
The Isles will play twelve home games on both Saturday and Tuesday, and five times on Thursday. They will play four times on Wednesday, three times on Sunday and Friday, and twice on Monday. The Sundat, February 18th home game against the Rangers will be played at Met Life Stadium as part of the Stadium Series; the Isles also played a Stadium Series game against the Blueshirts in 2014 -that game was at Yankee Stadium.
Schedule by Month
October (8), November (14), December (14), January (13), February (10), March (14), April (9). The Isles will complete the regular season at UBS by hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday, April 17th.
The Isles will reach the midway point of their schedule on January 11th, when they host Toronto in game 41.
The Isles will open the season with three home games and will also play nine of their first 13 games at UBS Arena; the Isles don't leave the Eastern Time Zone until they begin a four-game trip in Edmonton on November 13th. That will be the first of four four-game road trips this season. The longest homestand will be six straight home games in early-December. The Isles will be the home team for four straight games in February, although the fourth is the Stadium Series game in New Jersey.
The Isles will open the season with 22 of their 41 at home. They will then play 22 of 41 on the road in the second half of the season.
The Isles will play seven afternoon games this season, including four at UBS Arena (February 10th vs. Calgary at 1:00, February 24th vs. Tampa Bay at 2:00, March 16th vs Ottawa at 12:30 and March 23rd vs Winnipeg at 1:00). Their other three matinees will all be against the Rangers (February 18th at 3:00 at Met Life , March 17th at 1:00 at MSG, April 13th at 12:30, also at MSG). The Isles will play one 5:00 home game (March 24th vs. New Jersey), four 7:00 home games, and two 8:00 home games, with the other 29 home games scheduled for 7:30pm.
Hello Again, Bye
The Bye Weeks are on the NHL schedule again this season and for each team will either lead into, or lead out of, the All-Star Game. After their game on January 27th, the Isles will not play again until February 5th in Toronto, right after Scotiabank Arena hosts All-Star weekend February 2nd-3rd.
The 2023-24 Islanders:
Lane Lambert begins his second season as the Islander head coach after leading the team to a playoff berth in 2022-23.
Here is the 23-man active roster, as submitted to the NHL on Monday:
Ross Johnston (*)
There are six changes from last season's season opening roster.
Pierre Engvall, Hudson Fasching, Julien Gauthier, Bo Horvat and Samuel Bolduc are newcomers on the Isles roster from last October. Cal Clutterbuck started last season on IR and is active this season.
The newcomers replace Nikita Soshnikov, Robin Salo, Kieffer Bellows, Josh Bailey, Anthony Beauvillier, and Zach Parise. Of those, only Beauvillier is on an Opening Night NHL roster.
(*) Note that Ross Johnston was on the 23-man roster submitted to the NHL on Monday but was claimed on waivers by Anaheim on Tuesday. Simon Holmstrom was later recalled to join the active roster.
The twenty-three active players represent four nationalities: American (Fasching, Lee, Mayfield, Nelson, Palmieri, and Wahlstrom), Canadian (eleven players), Swedish (Holmstrom, Engvall and Aho), Russian (Romanov, Sorokin, and Varlamov).
Old and Young
Cal Clutterbuck (11-18-1987) is now the oldest player on the roster; Semyon Varlamov and Matt Martin are the only other players born in the 1980s. Simon Holmstrom (5-24-2001) is the youngest Islander and the only one born in 2001; Alexander Romanov and Noah Dobson (who are born one day apart), Oliver Wahlstrom and Samuel Bolduc are the only other Isles born in the 2000s.
Of the twenty-three active players, Bo Horvat is "middle-age". Horvat, who will turn 29 late in the regular season is older than eleven teammates and younger than eleven others. The average Islander is 28.9 years old, making the Isles (as of Thursday) the 8th-oldest team in the NHL.
Big and Small
Scott Mayfield are Pierre Engvall are the tallest (6' 5") while Anders Lee is the heaviest (227 pounds). Sebastian Aho is both the shortest (5' 10") and the lightest (180 pounds). The average Isle is 6'2" and 207 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/Nelson 5
Points: Trottier 14, Bossy 11, Nelson 10
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 sixth straight season. He joins Denis Potvin as the only player to start six consecutive seasons as Captain.
Ilya Sorokin returns for his fourth season. Ilya Sorokin has 16 shutouts in 130 career starts. He has recorded a shutout in 12.4% of his starts, which is the highest in NHL history (since 1943-44) among goalies with at least 100 starts:
• Ilya Sorokin 12.3%
• Roman Cechmanek 12.2%
Sorokin went 20-10-3 at UBS Arena last season, with a 1.91 GAA and a 93.6% save percentage; he became only the third goalie in Islander history to win at least 20 games at home in a season (Halak 22 in 2014-15, Smith 20 in 1981-82). Among all active goalies, Sorokin has the best career home marks in both GAA (2.01) and save percentage (93.1%).
Semyon Varlamov was selected in the first round in 2006 (23rd overall) and has the most wins (272) and has played the most games (583) of any goaltender taken in that draft. Varlamov starts the season with more games played than any goaltender drafted since 2006; his 261 wins trail only Frederik Andersen (283) for most wins among the same group.
Win, Win, Win
Lou Lamoriello has won 1,405 games as a General Manager, more than any active General Manager; David Poile (1,533) is the only GM with more career wins. Lou has been a GM for 2,756 games, ranking second behind Poile (3,075).
A Look Back
The Isles finished the 2022-23 regular season with a 42-31-9 record, earning the top wild card seeding in the Eastern Conference.
The Isles went 25-13-3 on UBS ice and 17-18-6 on the road.
Isles Team Leaders
Goals: Nelson 36, Lee 28, Parise 21 (Horvat had 38 combined)
Assists: Nelson 39, Barzal 37, Dobson 36
Points: Nelson 75, Barzal 51, Lee 50 (Horvat had 70 combined)
• Nelson led the Isles in goals for the fourth straight season, after Lee did so in the prior three seasons and led the team in assists for the first time.
• Nelson earned the title as the club point leader after sharing it with Barzal the previous season.
• Dobson had 49 points, giving him 100 points over the last two seasons.
The Isles were 35-222 on the power play (15.8%- 30th) and 39-219 (82.2% – 9th) on the PK. The Isles scored six shorthanded goals and allowed seven shorties.
The Isles' home penalty kill led the NHL, finishing at 89.5%, as they killed 91-102 on the season.
The Isles were 17-10-4 when they scored at least one power play goal and 25-21-5 when they did not. The Isles were 15-13-3 when they allowed at least one power play goal and 27-17-6 when they did not.
Three is a Magic Number
The Isles were 35-6-4 when they scored at least three goals (including shootout winners) and were 7-25-5 when they did not .
The Isles were 15-6-9 in games decided by a single goal including 9-6 in regulation. They were 5-4 in games decided in overtime and are 1-5 in shootouts. The Isles were 4-8 in games in which an empty net goal turns a 1-goal game into a 2-goal game.
The Isles were 7-7-1 in the front end and 8-5-2 in the back end last season.
Five Islanders appeared in every game last season: Zach Parise, Anders Lee, Sott Mayfield, Ryan Pulock and Brock Nelson. Like his father, Parise never missed a game in his islanders career.
All-time Islander Leader Boards:
Games Played (skaters)
1. Bryan Trottier 1,123 *** 2. Denis Potvin 1,060 *** 3. Josh Bailey 1,057…
6. Bob Bourne 814 *** 7. Matt Martin 766 *** 8. Brock Nelson 758 *** 9. Mike Bossy 752 *** 10. Casey Cizikas 745…
12. Brent Sutter 694 *** 13. Anders Lee 678 *** 14. John Tavares 669 *** 15. Derek King 638 *** 16. Cal Clutterbuck 636
1. Mike Bossy 573 *** 2. Bryan Trottier 500 *** 3. Denis Potvin 310 …
7. John Tavares 272 *** 8. Brock Nelson 241 *** 9. Anders Lee 240 *** 10. Bob Bourne 238 …
28. Ray Ferraro 116 *** 29 Mathew Barzal, Benoit Hogue, and Ed Westfall 105
1. Bryan Trottier 853 *** 2. Denis Potvin 742 *** 3. Mike Bossy 553…
13. Pat LaFontaine 279 *** 14. Bob Nystrom 278 *** 15. Billy Harris 259 *** 16. Mathew Barzal 257 *** 17. Tomas Jonsson 249 *** 18. Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo 230 *** 20. Brock Nelson 221…
23. Ed Westfall 181 *** 24. Anders Lee 176
1. Bryan Trottier 1,353 *** 2. Mike Bossy 1,126 *** 3. Denis Potvin 1,052…
13. Patrick Flatley 488 *** 14. Brock Nelson 462 *** 15. Billy Harris 443 *** 16. Anders Lee 416 *** 17. Kyle Okposo and Stefan Persson 369…19. Mathew Barzal 362
1. Bryan Trottier +467 *** 2. Denis Potvin +456 *** 3. Mike Bossy +380…
15. Bob Lorimer +105 *** 16. Adam Pelech +77 *** 17. Tomas Jonsson +76 *** 18. Garry Howatt +75 *** 19. Pat Price +70 *** 20. JP Parise +67 *** 21. Jude Drouin +58 *** 22. Patrick Flatley +57 *** 23. Greg Gilbert +54 ** 24. Ryan Pulock +52
1. Billy Smith 674 *** 2. Rick DiPietro 318 *** 3. Glenn Resch 282 …
8. *** Glenn Healy 176 *** 9. Roland Melanson and Ilya Sorokin 136 *** 11. Semyon Varlamov 135
1. Billy Smith 304 *** 2. Glenn Resch 157 *** 3. Rick DiPietro 130…
7. Roland Melanson 77 *** 8. Ilya Sorokin 70 *** 9. Glenn Healy 66 *** 10. Tommy Salo 62 *** 11. Semyon Varlamov 59
1. Glenn Resch 25 *** 2. Billy Smith 22 *** 3. Rick DiPietro and Ilya Sorokin 16 ***
5. Tommy Salo 14 *** 6. Semyon Varlamov 13
Same Voices, Same Places
MSG Networks will carry 70 of the Isles' 82 games this season (TNT will carry four games, ABC will air two games, ESPN will carry two games, while ESPN+/Hulu will exclusively stream four games). MSGSN will carry 60 games, while eight others will be on MSGSN2. All MSG broadcasts will also stream on MSG+.
Brendan Burke and Butch Goring partner for the eighth season; Shannon Hogan hosts Isles telecasts for her tenth season and Thomas Hickey returns for his second year. It is Butch's 14th season in the Isles booth; he has broadcast more than twice as many Isles games than he played and coached, combined.
On radio, Chris King and Greg Picker team up for the ninth 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 14th consecutive season of The Skinny as I begin my 43rd year on Islander telecasts. The Skinny streak stands at 927 consecutive games, including playoffs. Good weather and health-permitting, the 1,000th consecutive edition of The Skinny will appear after the March 30th game in Tampa Bay.
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