FRIDAY, OCTOBER 4—ISLANDERS AT NEW JERSEY 7:00PM
[MSG+ (Islanders pre-game at 6:30pm), 88.7 FM WRHU, 103.9 FM WRCN]
The Islanders begin their 42nd NHL season when they visit New Jersey.
It's the first of five meetings this season with New Jersey, who will be the only team to visit the Coliseum three times for the second straight season. The Isles won last season's series 3 games to 2 (and 6 points to 5), winning both games at Prudential Center; it’s the first time since 1998-99 that the Isles have swept the season series in New Jersey.
It’s the first time in five seasons that the Isles are opening on the road. The Isles are 10-22-8 in 40 previous road openers and are 9-21-10 on Opening Night (including 7-17-8 when they open on the road). The Devils will actually open their season on Thursday in Pittsburgh before returning to Newark for their home opener.
This is the second straight season that the Islanders have opened with New Jersey. The Devils edged the Islanders 2-1 at Nassau Coliseum on January 19 last season.
Opening Night Skinny:
This is the fifth time that the Isles have opened the season against the Devils and New Jersey has won the first four (1984 and 1992 at the Meadowlands, 2008 at The Rock and in January at the Coliseum). The Isles also opened the 1975-76 season with a 1-1 tie in Kansas City (the Devils' original home).
The Isles will be looking for their first win on Opening Night since 2007 (0-3-2); it is the longest current winless streak in the NHL. No current Islander played in that game, a 6-4 win in Buffalo in which Mike Comrie scored two goals and added two assists. The Isles are 1-7-2 in their last ten Opening Nights.
If Evgeni Nabokov gets the start on Friday night, he will end a streak just by playing. The Isles have used five starting goaltenders (Rick DiPietro-Joey MacDonald-Dwayne Roloson-Al Montoya-Evgeni Nabokov) in the five previous openers.
John Tavares is the 14th captain in Islander history. All-time, the Isles are 5-7-1 in their first game under a new captain, including 3-6-1 when the new captain starts a season. The Isles have had a new captain for the first game of every other season since 2005: 2005 (Alexei Yashin), 2007 (Bill Guerin), 2009 (Doug Weight), 2011 (Mark Streit).
Tavares is only the sixth Islander captain to be drafted by the team. Clark Gillies, Denis Potvin, Brent Sutter, Patrick Flatley and Bryan McCabe are the others, and all served in succession from 1977-1998. In fact, the Isles have an all-drafted leadership team as Andrew MacDonald and Kyle Okposo will serve as alternate captains.
This is the fifth time in club history that the Isles will open on the road, and then have their home opener the following night. The Isles are 1-2-1 in the road game (including losses in New Jersey in both 1984 and 2008) and are 4-0-0 in the home game. The Isles opened at home and then played the next night on the road in 1980, when they defeated Boston and Washington in their first two games as defending Stanley Cup Champions.
The Isles have been involved in three shutouts on Opening Night. Chico Resch blanked the Flyers in 1976, while the Kings (Stephane Fiset in 1996) and Panthers (Jose Theodore in 2011) turned the trick on the Isles.
And some other Skinny notes:
Chhh Chhh Changes
The Isles reached the 23-man roster limit on Monday. Of the 23 players on last year’s opening night roster, only 16 remain. Gone are Keith Aucoin, Brad Boyes, Rick DiPietro, Joe Finley, Radek Martinek, Marty Reasoner and David Ullstrom; they have been replaced by Josh Bailey (from injured list), Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Brock Nelson, Kevin Poulin, Peter Regin, Griffin Reinhart and Lubomir Visnovsky.
Of the 23 Isles on the active roster, Griffin Reinhart is the only one to have never played an NHL game. Brock Nelson appeared in one playoff game (Conference Quarterfinals Game 6) last spring and will be looking to make his regular season debut.
Youth Be Served
The Islanders 23-man roster consists of three players born in the 1970s (Eric Boulton, Evgeni Nabokov and Lubomir Visnovsky) and seven players born in the 1990s (Casey Cizikas, Matt Donovan, Travis Hamonic, Brock Nelson, Kevin Poulin, Griffin Reinhart and John Tavares). The other 13 players were born in the 1980s.
Reinhart is the only teenager on the roster and by far the youngest Islander; he’ll turn 20 in January. Fellow rookie Brock Nelson is the second youngest player -- he will turn 22 later this month.
Stability at the Top
Jack Capuano begins the season as the ninth-longest tenured head coach with his current team while Garth Snow begins the season as the 10th-longest tenured general manager with his current squad.
Of the nine New York head coaches/managers, only Tom Coughlin, Rex Ryan and Joe Girardi were appointed before Capuano, who assumed his role with the Islanders eight days before Terry Collins became the manager of the Mets.
The Isles finished last season with the second-best road record in the East, behind only Pittsburgh. The Isles earned 32 points out of 48 possible road points; their .667 point percentage was the highest in franchise history. They finished above .500 on the road for the first time since 2006-07, and had their second-best record ever through 24 road games:
Most points in first 24 road games (all time):
•34 in 1976-77 (15-5-4)
•33 in 1980-81 (15-6-3)
•32 in 2012-13 (14-6-4)
•31 in 1978-79 (13-6-5)
•28 in 1983-84 (13-9-2)
The Isles ended the regular season with a three-game road winless streak (0-1-2); it was the only time all season that they went three straight road games without a win.
Second to One
Jack Capuano ranks second on the all-time Islander list in both games coached (195) and wins (84). Capuano will coach his 200th game on October 12 in Nashville.
Most wins by Islander coaches:
1.Al Arbour 740
2.Jack Capuano 84
3.Terry Simpson 81
4.Peter Laviolette 77
5.Ted Nolan 74
Most games coached (Islanders):
1.Al Arbour 1,500
2.Jack Capuano 195
3.Mike Milbury 191
4.Terry Simpson 187
5.Scott Gordon 181
What a Pair!
John Tavares and Matt Moulson combined for 43 goals last season. Moulson assisted on 20 Tavares goals last season after assisting on 12 of his 31 goals in 2011-12. Tavares earned an assist on 10 Moulson goals last season.
Head of the Class
Islander Captain John Tavares has 249 career points; he is 56 points ahead of Matt Duchene for most among 2009 draft picks. No other player in that draft is anywhere close. Tavares also has more goals and more assists than any other player in that draft.
118 NHL Goals
Moulson has 118 career goals (112 as an Islander). While 262 players were selected before the Penguins chose Moulson in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, only 16 have more goals.
The Islanders are nine games over .500 all-time (1371-1362-439 in 3,172 games). The Isles have finished every season since 1977-78 above .500 all-time.
John Tavares is the reigning Islanders’ ironman. Tavares has now played in 207 consecutive games.
Two other Islanders played in every game for the second straight season: Frans Nielsen and former captain Mark Streit have each played in 130 consecutive games.
Five more players played in every game last season: Kyle Okposo (now 113 consecutive games), Travis Hamonic (70), Matt Martin (61), Andrew MacDonald & Brad Boyes (48).
Longest Consecutive Game Streaks, Post Cup Era
•Matt Moulson 10/3/2009- 4/4/2013 284
•Richard Park 10/5/2006 – 2/18/2009 221
•Bryan McCabe 10/7/1995-2/4/1998 220
•Bryan Trottier 3/7/1981- 1/12/1984 219
•Mariusz Czerkawski 12/23/1999 – 4/14/2002 215
•John Tavares 10/16/10 – CURRENT 207
Career Wins, Active Goalies
1. Martin Brodeur 669
2. Roberto Luongo 348
3. Evgeni Nabokov 335
4. Nikolai Khabibulin 332
17. Roberto Luongo 348
18. Evgeni Nabokov 335
18. Gump Worsley 335
20. Nikolai Khabibulin 332
Career Shutouts, Active Goalies
1. Martin Brodeur 121
2. Roberto Luongo 62
3. Evgeni Nabokov 55
4. Tomas Vokoun 51
18 Clint Benedict 57
19 Evgeni Nabokov 55
20 Bernie Parent 54
20 Ed Giacomin 54
Career Goals as an Islander
21Ray Ferraro 116
22Matt Moulson 112
22John Tavares 112
24Benoit Hogue 105
24Ed Westfall 105
Career Assists as an Islander
Career Games as an Islander (skaters)
39Randy Wood 381
40Frans Nielsen 367
49Shawn Bates 330
50Josh Bailey 329
51Eric Cairns 327
52Alan Kerr 326
53Brad Dalgarno 321
54Kyle Okposo 319
55Ray Ferraro 316
55Steve Webb 316
55Richard Park 316
58Gerald Diduck 314
59Mikko Makela 307
60Gordon Lane 304
61Arron Asham 300
61Roman Hamrlik 300
63Matt Moulson 293
64John Tavares 291
65Gordon Dineen 287
Career Points as an Islander
23John Tavares 249
32Matt Moulson 214
39Frans Nielsen 196
42Kyle Okposo 185
Eric Hornick has been the statistician on Islander home game telecasts since 1982. Information contained in “The Skinny” has been gathered from various sources. Follow Eric @ehornick on Twitter.