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Islanders News: New approach, new blueline look, work to be done

Indeed, there were no surprises in game one.

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Florida Panthers v New York Islanders
Now go back to the room and think about what you’ve done.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Thursday night’s home opener to kick off the Islanders’ 50th-anniversary season was a bit of a dud in highlights and outcome. But it wasn’t a humiliation (nor a dreaded shutout), and the game was up for grabs throughout.

The most significant change this season, the Islanders blueline (in: Alex Romanov and Robin Salo; out: Zdeno Chara and Andy Greene), was part of the focus — and each newcomer had his difficulties, particularly Salo.

Up front, many are expecting Mathew Barzal to be unleashed, and he definitely generated opportunities and held on to the puck longer than he would when following Peak Trotz instructions.

In both cases, it didn’t show up on the scoreboard, but offered hints of things to watch as we page through the book of Lane Lambert.

And of course, the primary question for this season remains: The Islanders want to open up a little more and be aggressive, but do they have the personnel to achieve good results with that approach?

Islanders News

  • 3 Takeaways, and Lambert quotes: “We had pockets that were good.” [Isles]
  • For the first game, mixed results on the blueline. [Athletic]
  • But it was another dropped home opener, with low offense. [Newsday]
  • The Skinny: It wasn’t just you, about that first period. “The first period featured 32 face-offs, just shy of the club record for face-offs in a period (35) which was set Feb. 9, 2016, in Columbus [Isles]
  • Original Islander Ed Westfall dropped the ceremonial puck to kick off the 50th anniversary. [Newsday]
  • An omen for the season? Thursday the Islanders rang the bell at the NYSE, then promptly watch the Dow drop over 500 points before rebounding by 1,500 to finish up 827+ on the day. [Isles]
  • Oliver Wahlstrom is working back from a minor injury with his spot in the lineup in jeopardy. (Then again, Kieffer Bellows wasn’t used much down the stretch in the opener, telling where this goes.) [Post]
  • True, Matthew Tkachuk “scored in his debut” like the headline advertises, but that was an empty netter. It was all his other danger and nuisance creation that had an impact. Also, Paul Maurice said his high-octane team approached this game with a playoff grind-it-out mentality. [NHL]
  • More from the Panthers end: Happy Tkachuk debut, and a Bobrovsky who looked in form. [Litter Box Cats]
  • This already receives more attention than it deserves, but the Post recaps the failed (staged?) wedding proposal last night. Really the only redeeming element was Shannon and A.J.’s intermission advice to guys, essentially, “Um...don’t do that.” [Post]


Last night’s NHL scores include the Flyers dumping the Devils, the Penguins and Smurfs also winning, while the Capitals fell to the Maple Leafs, whose new motto is “Forever Don’t Quit.”

  • The Flames won their season-opener for the first time in a decade, beating the defending champs. [TSN]
  • I rarely use the LHH Twitter account to rant old-man style, but I did last night about the terrible viewing experience with the new broadcast-projected ads on the boards. (If they didn’t bother you, count yourself lucky, but I assure you this is more than a “Oh, I just don’t like them” thing.) Apparently in other markets they were even worse, as they didn’t just distract from play — they literally covered it up. [Vancouvers is Awesome]
  • Pekka Rinne and Ryan Miller say the game and its goaltending is in good hands. [NHL]
  • The unique case of Patrick Kane, trade candidate. [TSN]
  • The Jets already have a different structure and feel under Rick Bowness. [Sportsnet]
  • The Habs will be without Mike Matheson for eight weeks due to an abdominal strain. If you remember some of his dirtier moments, you might not feel too bad. [TSN]
  • In conversation with Capitals GM Brian MacLellan, on keeping an aging core competitive while your star chases a legendary record. [Athletic]
  • ICYMI: The Isles’ next opponent, the Ducks, opened their season with an OT win over the Kraken. [NHL]