November 20, 2021, will not be the first time that the New York Islanders begin their home schedule against the Calgary Flames. The Islanders' first-ever game came against their expansion cousins, the Atlanta Flames, at Nassau Coliseum. Also, the 2000-01 Islanders opened their season against the Flames, which I’m pretty sure was my first home opener.
However, it will be the first time that the Islanders play a home game at UBS Arena at Belmont Park. The first game ought to be a win. They better beat Calgary—especially because wins before that game may be tough to come by.
The regular season begins on Tuesday, October 12, and the Islanders open their season by visiting the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday, October 14. November 20 means that nearly the first six weeks of the Islanders’ season will be played on the road. Specifically, it will be a 13-game road trip, by far the longest ever to open a season and the second-longest road trip in NHL history.
The San Jose Sharks, just last season, embarked on a 12-game trip on which they went 5-6-1. That one was the second-longest but will only remain so for about nine or ten months. The Sharks ultimately missed the playoffs by a pretty comfortable margin.
The longest road trip in NHL history belongs to the 2009-10 Vancouver Canucks, who embarked on a 14-game swing sandwiched around the two-week Olympic break. The Canucks went 8-5-1 on the journey and finished the regular season with the Northwest Division title and the Western Conference’s third seed. But they fell to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in the Conference Semifinals.
Basically, the Islanders should finish above NHL .500 on their season-opening trip to maximize their chances of making the playoffs.
To help them get through this slog, they will have a five-day break and a few three-day breaks. Aside from a back-to-back set out in Las Vegas and Arizona, they play most of the trip in the Eastern and Central Time Zones. But they do have three back-to-backs during this stretch and 19 total.
#Isles have 19 back-to-backs this season with the Olympic break condensing the schedule.— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) July 22, 2021
Also 11 instances of three games in four nights.
Gonna need a very deep bench this season.
Also, the Isles host the Toronto Maple Leafs in their second game at Belmont, the New York Rangers in the third game on Thanksgiving Eve, and then the Pittsburgh Penguins on Black Friday—a nice stretch of rivalry games to open the building.
The Islanders face the Seattle Kraken for the first time out in Washington on January 4, 2022. On January 29, 2022, the Kraken come to UBS Arena.
It should be an interesting season.