The NHL released the schedule for the 2016-17 season on Tuesday. It’s the Islanders’ 2nd season in Brooklyn and their 45th NHL season.
The Isles will open the season on Thursday, October 13th at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers. It will be only the second time that the teams have faced each other on Opening Night; the teams played a 2-2 tie at MSG on October 3, 1997. All-time, the Isles are 11-21-11 in 43 previous openers, including 2-0-1 in their last 3. The Isles are 11-23-9 in their first road game of the season, but have won each of their last two opening nights played on the road (2013 in New Jersey, 2014 in Carolina).
With the NHL starting about a week later than normal due to the World Cup of Hockey, the Isles will open on October 13th for only the second time in their history; on October 13, 1977, Mike Bossy made his NHL debut in a 3-2 loss in Buffalo. That matches the latest opener for a full season in club history.
Two on the Road to Start:
The Isles will also face Washington on Saturday, October 15th at Verizon Center for the Caps’ home opener. It's the first time in a decade that the Isles will open the season with a multi-game road trip. In 2006, the Isles opened in Phoenix as part of a four game trip before making it home to face Boston.
The Home Opener:
The Isles will begin their second season in Brooklyn on Sunday, October 16th at 6pm as they face the Anaheim Ducks. It will be the first time that the Isles have faced Anaheim in a home opener. The Isles are 25-12-6 all-time in home openers (0-0-1 at Barclays Center) and are 1-0-0 in Sunday home openers, defeating Colorado 4-2 in a 1999 matinee. However, the Isles are only 1-2-4 in seven home openers in the Tavares era.
The October 16th home opener extends an Islander streak of home openers on either Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. The last midweek opener was on Thursday, October 16, 1986 vs. Washington; the Isles defeated the Caps 7-4. Six months later the Isles would need 7 periods to win their 4th game of the series against Washington, winning the Easter Epic.
That 1986 game is one of two previous October 16th home openers; the Isles also opened at home on October 16, 1993 (a 6-3 loss to New Jersey). Ironically, like this fall that was also the regular season opener following a playoff series win.
Sundays at 6:
The Isles will play seven home games this season on Sundays at 6pm; this includes each of the first three weeks of the season (October 16 vs. Anaheim, October 23 vs. Minnesota, and October 30 vs. Toronto).
Lots of Home Cooking Early:
The home opener vs. Anaheim kick-starts a stretch of five straight home games, and ten out of 11 on Barclay’s Center ice. The Isles will host Vancouver on Monday November 7th to end a stretch that will see 10 of the first 13 at home.
It’s the second straight season that the Isles will play a lot of home games early, and the first time the Isles have ever opened with 10 of 13 at home; the Isles played 10 of the first 15 at home in both 2002-03 and 2015-16.
The Isles’ annual California road trip will take place during Thanksgiving week, with games Tuesday and Wednesday nights in Anaheim and Los Angeles, and a Black Friday matinee (4pm ET) against the Western Conference Champion San Jose Sharks. That three-game trip is the longest for the Islanders before Christmas.
The Isles will host Pittsburgh on Wednesday, November 30th. This game is scheduled to start at 8pm, making it a likely candidate for NBCSN’s Rivalry Night. It’s one of only two home games scheduled to start after 7pm. The Isles will host New Jersey at 7:30pm on Friday, March 31st.
A Capital December:
The Islanders will play three games with Washington in December, visiting DC on December 1st and hosting the Caps on December 13th and December 27. Washington is the only team to visit Barclays Center three times; the Caps will also be in Brooklyn on January 31st.
The Caps’ December 27th visit will be the Isles’ 22nd home game in the first 34 games. The Isles had never previously played the first 22 home games in fewer than 38 games (2000-01 and 2002-03).
If It’s New Year’s Eve, It’s Winnipeg:
For the second time in three seasons, the Isles will say good bye to the old year with a game in Winnipeg. The Isles won there in 2014, by a 5-2 score. The Isles have won five straight New Year’s Eve games, including a 2-1 win in Buffalo last season, and are 9-0-1 in their last ten Auld Lang Syne games.
That will be the second of four straight road games that includes five days without games January 1st-5th. It will also be the 2nd game of a stretch where the Isles play 7 of 8 on the road, highlighted by a playoff home-and-home rematch with Florida (January 11th in Brooklyn and January 13th in Sunrise).
Five Home Games in Eight Days Leading to All-Star Break:
The Isles will play five home games in an eight-day span, from January 19th to January 26th. The season’s longest home-stand will conclude with a 6th game, right after the All-Star break, on January 31st vs Washington.
The Isles will face the Rangers and Devils three times in a four-day stretch in mid-February (hosting the Rangers on February 16th and the Devils on February 19th in the back-end of a home-and-home with the Devils. By February 19th, the Isles will have played 34 home games and only 24 on the road. It’s the first time the Isles have ever played 34 home games in fewer than the first 63 games.
It All Evens Out in the End:
The Isles will embark on a franchise-record nine-game road trip from February 21st to March 11th. The Isles will visit Detroit, Montreal and Columbus during President’s Week before having four consecutive off days. The Isles will then play six Western Conference road games to end the stretch.
The Isles will end March by playing six of ten games at home, including the season’s only home matinee (March 18th vs. Columbus).
the Isles will play four straight on the road to begin April before hosting Ottawa at 5pm on Sunday, April 9th in the final game of the regular season. It is the only 5:00 start on the Isles’ home schedule.
The 3,500 Club:
The season-ending April 9th game with Ottawa will be the Isles’ 3,500th regular season game.
The Isles will play 4 games against their Metropolitan Division rivals, except for Carolina (extra road game) and Washington (extra home game) for a total of 30 games. They will face the eight Atlantic Division teams three times each and the 15 Western Conference teams twice each. This is the final season of the two extra games against rotating divisional opponents; in 2017-18 those games will be replaced with games against the NHL’s 31st team, Las Vegas.
82 Games in 179 Days:
The Isles will play their 82 games over a span of 179 days. It’s the first time since 2003-2004 that they have played a full season over that short a time span, and the third time since the NHL introduced an 82-game schedule that they have played a full season in only 179 days.
The Isles will play 16 back-to-back sets, including four in March alone. They played 15 sets in 2015-16, 16 sets in 2014-15 and 18 sets in 2013-14.
See you in October!
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 & on his blog www.nyiskinny.com.