Cue the excitement, hockey is finally back -- and this time there was no war between suited billionaires and athletic millionaires to wait out before it all returned.
Instead, just an offseason of moves under a new CBA and a temporarily reduced salary cap. Not all of the New Islanders' moves will be in evidence for tonight's opener in Newark against the Devils, but several important ones are reflected in the expected lines below:
Moulson - Tavares - Okposo
Grabner - Nielsen - Bailey
Nelson - Regin - Bouchard
Martin - Cizikas - McDonald
MacDonald - Hamonic
Visnovsky - Hickey
Strait - Donovan
- Bye Boyes, Bye Boyes, What You Gonna Do? Brad Boyes is gone, signed in the Career Resuscitation Camp known as the Florida Panthers. In his place, during camp the Isles tested Pierre-Marc Bouchard (free agent signing from Minnesota), Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo. Look for Okposo to get the first crack tonight.
- Grabner, Elevated: Okposo (or Bailey's) move means Michael Grabner slots back into the second line. Previously he made the third line dangerous while continuing his excellent PK work. For now he's back with PK running mate Frans Nielsen at even strength too.
- It Is Your Destiny: With Mark Streit moving on to Philadelphia, John Tavares is the new captain. In accordance with the prophecies.
- OHhhhhhhklahoma! In Streit's place, Matt Donovan brings the offense from the blueline. You'll hear coach Jack Capuano speak a lot about how he likes the Oklahoma native's willingness to "activate" -- which basically means pinching in or joining the rush as the fourth attacker. He's the first Oklahoman in the NHL, they say.
- The Reverend Brock: Fellow rookie Brock Nelson also gets his shot, having won a de facto training camp battle with Ryan Strome, Anders Lee and Johan Sundstrom to claim a spot at forward opened up by Cal Clutterbuck's injury.
- Regin-omics: Another low-hanging free agent fruit for Garth Snow is former Senator and Frans Nielsen buddy Peter Regin. The Dane has seen injury troubles sabotage his last two seasons, bumping him from the Senators' plans as their fountain of prospects has yielded results while his shoulder kept him on the shelf. If his shoulder is healthy and his fitness is back, he'll be useful. If not, the Isles have replacements ready and waiting in Bridgeport.
Scratched tonight are rough boys Eric Boulton, Matt Carkner and rookie Griffin Reinhart, the 2012 4th-overall pick who impressed in camp enough to stick around. He'll have to impress further, or win a job through injury, to stay past 9 games played.
On the Devils' side, no announced lineup changes yet, but Jaromir Jagr did play last night and was deemed "excellent" by his coach. Also following the Devils: Fellow SB Nation site In Lou We Trust.
Other notes and reads since the morning bits post:
- Newsday's Arthur Staple with some mid-day updates, including quotes from Jack Capuano on rookies Brock Nelson and Matt Donovan.
- Eric Hornick has your history and numbers in the Skinny. This is the fifth time the Islanders have yawned the season open against the Devils.
- Matt Martin dates a gal. Her father is somewhat known in New York. So Martin comes up on the father's radio show when they talk to John Tavares.
- Justin Bourne: The Islanders are good. Or maybe they're bad. You can argue either way, naturally.
- Frans, owner of the NHL's best nickname? Yes.
- The familiar theme, this time in the Post: Isles need to prove they're for real for 82 games.
- Here is the Islanders official media guide in PDF form.
- Heh: The Islanders' ECHL affiliate Stockton Thunder have signed former Isles pick Corey Trivino.
They Said It
"John reminds me of Denis Potvin," Fischler said, referring to the Hall of Fame defenseman who was the No. 1 overall pick by the Islanders in 1973 and later helped them win four straight Stanley Cups. "There’s a parallel to the way both were top overall picks plus the growing pressure and attention as the team improved. John’s growing maturity is roughly equivalent to the way the team is maturing. He’s as dedicated a young player as I have ever seen."
-The New York Times, quoting longtime scribe and broadcaster Stan Fischler
Each year we solicit First Islanders Goal ("FIG") picks before each game. The rules are simple. Follow along with the others here to see format and such. There is no money involved, but for the winner: on your deathbed you will receive total consciousness. Which is nice.
More from Lighthouse Hockey:
- Islanders Gameday: Fashionably Late Isles Open vs. New Jersey Devils
- [Gameday Bits] Finally, the Islanders get to play, too.
- Zeitgeist: NHL Shuts Down In Impasse Over Fighting
- [Bits] The Tao of Cappy. Plus, Yormark on Unis, Bailey Time and the Glorious Lack of Drama
- Video Preview: What the Isles did last summer, via a sleep-deprived blogger