Brian Compton and Christian Arnold discuss what to expect on Opening Night at the Barclays Center. Plus, the guys chat with Newsday beat writer Arthur Staple (10:30) about Jaroslav Halak’s availability and where Ryan Pulock fits in on the blue line.
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The Islanders and Barclays Center have announced Opening Night festivities for Friday’s game against the Blackhawks.
Fans are encouraged to arrive at their seats by 7:15 p.m.. The ceremonies will include a tribute video to the late Al Arbour. In addition, Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, Bob Nystrom, and Billy Smith will take part in the ceremonial puck drop. Alexa Ray Joel will sing the National Anthem.
There will be a Hockey Hall of Fame exhibit on the main concourse that will feature Islanders memorabilia, and living mannequins will display the latest Islanders merchandise. There will be special concessions, such as blue-and-orange popcorn and cupcakes, as well.
Friday will also mark the debut of the Islanders’ new in-game host, Kerri Schreiber. Schreiber was previously on-air talent on Islanders broadcasts on WHRU.
Opening Night is always one of my favorites, specifically for the player introductions. For whatever reason, I always love the formality of it in both hockey and baseball. It sounds like Barclays Center has plenty of pomp and circumstance in store for the Opener, so it should feel like a very special night. The Arbour tribute will no doubt be moving, and I’m excited to see the legends help drop the puck to kick off a new era in Islanders hockey.
I know some fans are still hesitant to embrace Barclays Center, but I expect some to be converted on Friday night. The building — which really is gorgeous — rises to the occasion on big nights. I’ve attended as a fan both for the Nets’ first game in Brooklyn in 2012, as well as WWE’s SummerSlam weekend this past August. Every time I’ve done so, I have left impressed. Friday will probably be no different.
With just one day to go the Islanders kick off their 2015-16 campaign, Jaroslav Halak’s status is still a mystery.
“He got a good sweat in the past couple days down there, he did a lot of work, he was on the ice early,” Jack Capuano told reporters when asked about Halak, who practiced the past two days in Annapolis, Maryland. “We’ll have to see how he feels tomorrow and then tie it all together.”
Newsday’s Art Staple writes Halak would certainly miss the first few games if he was a skater since his conditioning would be so far behind, but that might not be as big of a concern with a goaltender. Still, the Islanders don’t seem to want to take any chances.
“You don’t want to rush things, especially with a guy in that important position for us,” Capuano added.
If there is any question as it pertains to Halak’s health, the Islanders should probably just give him the first few games off. There are a few things this team absolutely cannot survive. One of them is a prolonged injury to Jaro. Playing in the opener is nice for the fan’s psyche, and when it’s the start of a new era in a Brooklyn, probably something Halak would love to be a part of. But the important thing is to have him healthy enough to start 55-60 games. If I had to guess, I’d bet that Thomas Greiss
will play Friday night and Monday afternoon, with J.F. Berube
getting the nod Saturday in Chicago. Then, the Islanders can evaluate Halak’s condition again before the Predators come to town on the 15th.
The Islanders will kick off their 44th season in the NHL on Friday night when they host the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.
The Isles finished with 101 points in 2014-15, and were eliminated in seven games in the first round of the playoffs by the Washington Capitals.
With the NHL season officially underway, the Islanders Point Blank staff checks in with their predictions for the club’s 2015-16 campaign.
Brian ErniWhat Will Go Right:
This team is going to score…a lot
. John Tavares will have another top-three finish for the Art Ross Trophy, Ryan Strome will have a breakout, 28-goal season, and the Isles will net 250 for the second straight year. Marek Zidlicky will be an integral addition to the power play, and the team will rank in the upper half of the league in production with an extra attacker. The Isles will relish the new 3-on-3 overtime format, all while Jaro Halak gets over his bumps and bruises in training camp and starts 58 games this season.
What Will Go Wrong: The penalty kill will get off to a slow start, as the trade of Michael Grabner has an impact on special teams. Brian Strait gets most of the time while Thomas Hickey is on the shelf, and … let’s just say, it doesn’t bode well. With four back-to-backs before Thanksgiving, Thomas Greiss struggles at the onset.
Prediction: The Isles finish in second place in the Metropolitan division with 103 points, behind only the Washington Capitals. They’ll draw the New York Rangers in the opening round of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:What Will Go Right:
The Islanders have a lot of fire power heading into the 2015-16 campaign and expect John Tavares and the rest of this young group to put up a lot of points, especially the top line. Anders Lee and Ryan Strome will greatly benefit from playing alongside Tavares, and if all pans out, this could be the Islanders’ top line going forward. They were impressive during the preseason when they were together and that natural chemistry will translate well once the regular season begins on Friday.
What Will Go Wrong: From the looks of things during the preseason, the power play will be an issue this year. The Islanders only had one game during their eight game exhibition schedule where the power play worked well. Special teams has been a very sore subject over the last several years and the inconsistent nature of the Islanders’ power play last season hurt the team down the stretch and in the playoffs. It seems like that will be something the team struggles with to start the regular season this year.
Prediction: The Islanders will finish the 2015-16 season third in the Metropolitan Division. It’s blasphemy to say, but the Rangers will take the division and the Washington Capitals finish in second.
The New York Islanders have placed D Tom Nilsson on waivers (McKenzie, Oct. 7).
Nilsson, 22, spent last season playing with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL. The Islanders acquired Nilsson last season from the Toronto Maple Leafs, along with four other prospects, in exchange for Michael Grabner.
In 44 games played last season he scored one goal and had five assists.
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The Islanders have announced their 23-man roster. (Oct 6)
The team will carry goaltenders Jaroslav Halak, Thomas Greiss, and Jean-Francois Berube; defensemen Johnny Boychuk, Calvin de Haan, Travis Hamonic, Nick Leddy, Ryan Pulock, Brian Strait, Marek Zidlicky; and forwards Josh Bailey, Steve Bernier, Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck, Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolay Kulemin, Anders Lee, Matt Martin, Brock Nelson, Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo, Ryan Strome, and John Tavares.
Thomas Hickey (upper body) will begin the season on injured reserve.
Pulock, the team’s first round pick in 2013, has yet to appear in an NHL game.
So Pulock gets the call in place of Hickey. Now who actually gets the playing time between him and Strait is the big question mark. Obviously, the fans are going to yearn for Pulock, but we know how stubborn Jack Capuano can be when it comes to getting Strait ice time. Time will tell how it will play out.
The other notable addition here is Berube, who was just claimed off waivers from the Kings. If Halak is going to be ready for the opener, Berube won’t stay with the club. Instead, he’ll have to be placed on waivers, with the Kings getting first priority to get him back. If Jaro can’t go, Berube will back up Greiss to start the year.