NEW YORK ISLANDERS (0-0-0) VS. CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (0-1-0)
7:30 P.M. BARCLAYS CENTER, MSG+, CHANNEL FINDER, WNYE 91.5 FM, WRHU 88.7 FM, WRCN 103.9 FM, BUY TICKETS
1.Will Halak Start? Jaroslav Halak nursed an injury during most of training camp, only appearing in the Islanders first preseason game. Jack Capuano did not commit to Halak in goal for Friday’s opener, but the Islanders goaltender did practice Tuesday through Thursday, which is an encouraging sign going forward. The 30-year-old won 38 games last season – setting the Islanders single-season wins record – and was an integral part of the team’s success. If Halak doesn't play, expect Thomas Greiss to get the nod in goal.
UPDATE: Thomas Greiss will start. J.F. Berube will serve as backup.
2.Barclays Debuts! Friday marks the Islanders first regular-season game in Brooklyn, their new home after 43 years at Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders have played five preseason games and a Blue & White Scrimmage at Barclays Center, but now the games count for real. It’s a change for the Islanders and the fans, who are adjusting to new game-day routines, but the facility is state-of-the-art and has a lot to offer, from a bigger locker room to a smorgasbord of new concessions. The Islanders want to make Barclays a tough place for opponents to play, so it’ll be up to the Islanders – and their fans – to make it happen. There are plenty of festivities on tap Friday to kick off the new arena with a bang.
3.Top Line: Anders Lee and Ryan Strome are expected to start on the Islanders top line with John Tavares. Lee (25 goals) and Strome (50 points) took big steps forward last season and provided the secondary scoring that bolstered the Islanders potent offense. No longer in a secondary role, Lee and Strome are expected to contribute on a nightly basis, especially playing alongside an MVP-calibre center in Tavares. Tavares is also looking to build on a career year that saw him score 86 points (38G, 48A) and finish one point shy of the NHL’s scoring lead.
4.Blackhawks: The Blackhawks are 0-1-0 after dropping their season opener to the New York Rangers. Expect the reigning Stanley Cup champions to come into Friday’s game hungry. The Islanders went 1-1 against the Blackhawks last season, winning at home, while losing on the road.
5.Sharp, Saad Out, Teravainen in Top-Six: The Blackhawks lost a few key pieces this offseason, trading top-six forwards Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad, as well as losing top-four defenseman Johnny Oduya to free agency. They are counting on homegrown prospects like Teuvo Teravainen to step up with increased roles. Teravainen scored a goal in the Blackhawks opener.