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It's been a long five months, but New York Islanders hockey is back on Friday night, as the team kicks off the 2019-20 season against the Washington Capitals at NYCB Live, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
It's a similar looking squad to last year's team, with nearly the entire roster returning from last year's 103-point effort, which included leading the league in goals against. In are Semyon Varlamov, Derick Brassard and Noah Dobson, replacing Robin Lehner, Valtteri Filppula and Thomas Hickey.
Friday marks the first home opener at Nassau Coliseum in five years, with the last one coming on Oct. 11, 2014. Head Coach Barry Trotz has given everyone permission to leave work early and come tailgate. It should be rowdy, it should be a lot of fun. Let's get down to business.
- Casey Cizikas is good to go for Friday's opener. The Isles' center had missed two practices after a collision with Rangers defenseman Adam Fox in Saturday's preseason finale. Cizikas said the hit - and him hobbling off the ice - looked worse than it was. - Barry Trotz has not named a starter for his season opener. UPDATE: Trotz did not name a starting goalie. Both Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Greiss left the ice at the same time. - Derick Brassard will make his Islanders regular-season debut on Friday. Brassard will center the Islanders third line, likely alongside Anthony Beauvillier and Leo Komarov. - Noah Dobson made the Islanders out of training camp, but it's unclear if he'll make his NHL debut on Friday. UPDATE: Dobson stayed on for extra work after the team's optional morning skate, suggesting he will not be in the lineup on Friday. - The Isles are 3-2-1 on Opening Night over the last five years; however, they are only 4-9-3 in their last 16 Openers. - Trotz will tie Al Arbour in games coached on Opening Night and will pass him on Sunday. Trotz has coached 1,606 NHL games.
- The Capitals are 1-0-0 to start the season, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to score a 3-2 OT win over the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues. - Evgeny Kuznetsov will miss Friday's game, as he continues to serve his three-game suspension for inappropriate conduct. - Michal Kempny will miss Friday's game as he continues his recovery from a hamstring injury. - Ilya Samsonov is the expected starter for the Capitals. Samsonov, the Capitals 2015 first-round pick, would be making his NHL debut if he gets the nod on Friday. Samsonov, who cited Varlamov as an inspiration, spent last season in AHL Hershey, and the three previous seasons in Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the KHL.