By Process of Elimination, the Islanders Should Open at Home Against the Devils (UPDATE: Confirmed)
Update, 5:45pm: Devils beat writer Tom Gulutti confirms the Islanders will host the Devils on 1/19 at the Coliseum.
This morning, I posted a list of the opening night (or day) games that the NHL has tentatively scheduled for next Saturday, January 19th, as reported by reputable hockey media. The schedule is very fluid at the moment and subject to change — the Minnesota Wild, for example, successfully lobbied to get their opening game adjusted — but if you put all the reporting from various sources together, it seems as though the Islanders opening at home against the Devils on Saturday, January 19th is the most logical conclusion. Here’s how I came to that conclusion:
That’s where we left off this morning, which left the following teams: NYI, NJD, CAR, WSH, TBL, FLA. Today, we learned more from some well-connected reporters.
Erik Erlendsson from Tampa Bay Online tweeted that the Capitals would open on the road against the Lightning, leaving us with four teams (NYI, NJD, CAR, FLA). Of those four, only two could play home games, as New Jersey and Carolina’s arenas are booked on January 19th. If all of the above is true, that guarantees the Islanders will have a home game on the 19th, assuming the NHL is intent on playing as many teams as possible that day. Chip Alexander, on the Canes beat for the News Observer in North Carolina, tweeted that it is “looking more and more likely” that the Canes would open in Florida on the 19th.
So that leaves us with the Islanders and Devils. As most reporters are saying, and the Wild proved, the schedule is still flexible at this point. But with the Prudential Center booked on the 19th and news out there from good reporters about the rest of the Eastern Conference, it sure looks like we’ll have Islanders/Devils at the Coliseum on January 19th.
For what it’s worth, the Islanders told me they have not heard from the NHL regarding their opening game and opponent.