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Islanders at Blue Jackets preview

Panarin ready for first game with Columbus; Eberle set to make debut with New York

by Craig Merz / Correspondent

ISLANDERS (0-0-0) at BLUE JACKETS (0-0-0)

7 p.m. ET; FS-O, MSG+, NHL.TV


The Game

Forward Artemi Panarin will make his Columbus Blue Jackets debut against the New York Islanders on Friday. He was acquired on June 23 in a trade trade that sent forward Brandon Saad back to the Chicago Blackhawks. Panarin, 25, had 151 points (61 goals, 90 assists) the past two seasons with Chicago. He looked comfortable in the preseason as the left wing on the top line with center Alexander Wennberg and right wing Cam Atkinson. Panarin could also help a power play that was 12th in the NHL last season at 19.9 percent.

"I like what I see," coach John Tortorella said. "I think the first [power-play] group with Panarin added is going to be better."

Right wing Jordan Eberle, 27, will play his first game with the Islanders after being acquired from the Edmonton Oilers in a trade for forward Ryan Strome on June 22. Eberle has 382 points (165 goals, 217 assists) in 507 NHL games. He's expected to play on the top line with center John Tavares and left wing Anders Lee.

Doug Weight starts his first full season as coach of the Islanders. He replaced Jack Capuano on Jan. 17. The Islanders were 24-12-4 under Weight and missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs by one point.


Players to watch

Tavares enters the final season of a six-year contract that has an average annual value of $5.5 million and can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. The 27-year-old led the Islanders in points for the third straight season with 66 (28 goals, 38 assists).

Pierre-Luc Dubois, 19, was the Blue Jackets' first-round pick (No. 3) in the 2016 NHL Draft behind center Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs and forward Patrik Laine of the Winnipeg Jets. The Blue Jackets are keen on making him a center but want Dubois to be comfortable in his jump to the NHL.


They said it

"We want to come out, play hard, physical and hit them first and come out with confidence. Don't be on our heels." -- Weight

"Once the players got away from that stubbornness as far as their routine, for the most part they liked it. Some of the cheap guys still come in here for the meal." -- Tortorella on continuing the policy of not having morning skates on most game days.


Islanders projected lineup

Anders Lee -- John Tavares -- Jordan Eberle

Andrew Ladd -- Mathew Barzal -- Josh Bailey

Anthony Beauvillier -- Brock Nelson -- Jason Chimera

Nikolay Kulemin -- Casey Cizikas -- Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy -- Johnny Boychuk

Calvin de Haan -- Dennis Seidenberg

Thomas Hickey -- Adam Pelech

Thomas Greiss

Jaroslav Halak

Scratched: Ryan Pulock, Scott Mayfield, Joshua Ho-Sang

Injured : Shane Prince (lower body), Alan Quine (upper body)


Blue Jackets projected lineup

Artemi Panarin -- Alexander Wennberg -- Cam Atkinson

Sonny Milano -- Nick Foligno -- Oliver Bjorkstrand

Pierre-Luc Dubois -- Brandon Dubinsky -- Matt Calvert

Markus Hannikainen -- Lukas Sedlak -- Zac Dalpe

Zach Werenski -- Seth Jones

Jack Johnson -- David Savard

Ryan Murray -- Gabriel Carlsson

Sergei Bobrovsky

Joonas Korpisalo

Scratched: Scott Harrington

Injured: Boone Jenner (middle body), Jordan Schroeder (upper body), Sam Vigneault (broken finger)


Status report

Weight opted for more experience on opening night but noted that, "No one played themselves out of the lineup. We have three [games] in four nights here." He said Halak will start against the Buffalo Sabres at Barclays Center in the home opener Saturday. … The Blue Jackets loaned right wing Josh Anderson to Cleveland of the American Hockey League for conditioning purposes. Anderson signed a three-year, $5.5 million contract on Tuesday after missing all of training camp. Defenseman Markus Nutivaara was assigned to Cleveland on Thursday.


Stat pack

The Islanders are 2-1-1 in their past four season openers and 11-22-11 since entering the NHL in 1972. … The Blue Jackets are 6-8-2 on opening night. Jenner's consecutive-games streak will end at 175. It began March 21, 2015, against the Calgary Flames.

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