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10 Big Games In 2016-17

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders

It’s been too long since we had Islanders hockey.

The season is still about two months away, but before then, there’s the World Cup of Hockey and training camp to help us through the home stretch. With the schedule already out and individual tickets set to go on sale on August 26, we’re planning out our winter accordingly. NewYorkIslanders.com is fired up for every game, but if we had to pick 10 games we’re really hyped for… well here they are:

Oct. 13 – Islanders at Rangers – Opening Night

Talk about starting the season off with a bang!

Islanders-Rangers on opening night doesn’t even take us from 0-60. We’re literally starting the season at 60. No easing into this pool.

It should be a great night though. We all know what we’re getting; heated rivals, split crowd, lots of screaming and yelling. It’ll also be our first chance to see Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera in Islanders jerseys and PA Parenteau back in the lineup. Add in the excitement of opening night and the fact that hockey is back. Couldn’t ask for more from a season opener.

Oct. 15 – Islanders at Capitals

Not one, but two rivalry games to start the season! The double-barrel start takes the Islanders to Washington D.C. for their second game of the season against a bitter rival. The hard feelings from their 2015 playoff series were evident on the ice last season and Washington’s status as Presidents’ Trophy winners makes them a measuring stick for the Islanders.

Oct. 16 – Islanders vs. Ducks – Home Opener

The only thing better than watching hockey on TV is watching it live, with a whole bunch of likeminded people, yelling Yes! Yes! Yes! at the top of their lungs. The Islanders return home on Oct. 16 after starting the season on the road and it’s a can’t-miss event if you bleed blue and orange.

Nov. 1 – Islanders vs. Lightning – Playoff Rematch

Travis Hamonic said losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning was all the motivation he needed to train hard this summer. He’s not happy about it and neither are we. It may just be the regular season, but this is the Islanders’ first chance to exact some revenge on the Bolts.

Nov. 12 – Islanders at Panthers – Playoff Rematch

The way we feel about Tampa is probably the way Florida feels about us. This is the first Islanders-Panthers meeting since last year’s playoffs, which was a pretty close and intense series. Florida made some changes on the back end – in is Keith Yandle, out are Brian Campbell, Dmitry Kulikov and Erik Gudbranson – but there will be a lot of familiar faces up front. Plus, it’s another chance to watch Jaromir Jagr. 

Nov. 30 – Islanders vs. Penguins – Cup Champs

Any visit from the Stanley Cup champions is a big game – and a measuring stick – but throw in a heated rivalry, national TV audience and this has the makings of a huge game. This rivalry has stayed hot ever since ‘Fight Night’ in 2011, with the teams meeting in the playoffs in 2013 and jockeying for position near the top of the Metropolitan Division over the past two seasons.

Dec. 6 – Islanders vs. Rangers

Just our humble opinion, but these games are more fun at home. Bring the noise and the Yes! Yes! Yes!

The Returns: Oct. 30 (Matt Martin), Dec. 4 (Frans Nielsen) and Dec. 23 (Kyle Okposo)

This summer saw the departure of three longtime Islanders. Kyle Okposo signed with the Buffalo Sabres, Frans Nielsen signed with the Detroit Red Wings and Matt Martin signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Nielsen and Okposo each played over 500 games with the Islanders, while Martin was a fan favorite for his hard style of play and work in the community. Needless to say, it’ll be an emotional night during their respective returns.

Martin is the first to come back (he’ll be joined by 2016 first-overall pick Auston Matthews) on Oct. 30. Nielsen faces off against the Islanders on Dec. 4 and Okposo returns just before Christmas on Dec. 23.

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