With the final two makeup games out of the way, the 2022-23 NHL regular season has concluded, and all eight first-round match-ups in the Stanley Cup Playoffs have been settled. The New York Islanders already knew they were playing the Carolina Hurricanes, but the two unsettled battles delayed the schedule release. Instead, we had to wait for information to leak bit by bit before the league actually got there.
But now we know that the Islanders and Canes will actually open the Stanley Cup Playoffs—like it’s the first game of the entire playoffs—on Monday night at 7:00 p.m. The full schedule is below.
Of note, the two (or three, if necessary) home games would all be on the weekend, which will help the crowd get rowdier. Also, Sunday is a matinee, so hopefully, some kids get to see playoff games. And if it gets to a Friday night Game 6, there will be a two-day break after Game 5.
The biggest Islanders-centric news came much earlier in the day when they hit the ice for practice. Guess who was taking line rushes, baby.
- Mathew Barzal was a full participant at practice yesterday (and is today, as well), and will be back for Game 1, skating alongside Bo Horvat and Anders Lee. [Isles DTD | NHL | Newsday]
- Today’s practice lineup, where Matt Martin is not present. I’d guess it’s a good ol’ maintenance day.
Matt Martin doesn't appear to be on the ice for practice— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) April 15, 2023
D pairs rotating.
Both goalies on the ice
Ross Johnston, Simon Holmstrom and Parker Wotherspoon also practicing
I asked Lambert yesterday if Martin was injured. He said no.— Stefen Rosner (@stefen_rosner) April 15, 2023
He's not on the ice today. #Isles
- Barzal’s return will be a big boost to everyone in that locker room, but especially (hopefully) Horvat and the power play, which only ever looked good this season when Bo and Barzy came together. [The Athletic] It’s certainly a boost to Barzal himself, who said his return “just lifts [his] soul.” [THN]
- Unfortunately, Alex Romanov will miss Game 1, and it’s not clear when he will be able to return, although he is still skating and has been since at least this past Wednesday. My personal speculation is that he’ll be back in time for Game 3. [Newsday | NY Post]
- Here’s a more detailed look at the Islanders’ first-round schedule. [Islanders]
- Stan Fischler previews this series, saying it’s a clash of a pair of opposites. I think they’re pretty similar, honestly, but there are some key differences in style and makeup. But Stan knows that the Islanders thrive in the underdog role they will play. [THN]
- Ilya Sorokin was probably the biggest reason the Islanders made it, and he’s one of many elite Russian goalies in the NHL. A look behind why that might be, including that Russian juniors are more akin to the minor leagues for the KHL, meaning they might get a call-up as kids. [The Athletic]
- The New York Post spoke with the three MSG color analysts to get their take on the chances of the team they cover. Butchie likes the Isles’ group. [NY Post]
- Former NHL defenseman Shane O’Brien ripped Horvat in a bizarre and vulgar rant on his podcast, accusing him of taking a shot at the fans and saying he, as the former captain, should wear the Vancouver Canucks firing three coaches and not making the playoffs. But O’Brien also said he didn’t care if Horvat took a shot at management, who is a lot more responsible for the coaches and lack of playoff experiences. Very smart man, that Shane O’Brien—definitely a guy I remember playing in the NHL and not some plug. [Offside]
The two last games of the season featured the Blue Jackets losing to the Sabres to secure the second-best odds at Connor Bedard and the Avalanche defeating the Predators to lock up the Central Division title despite the slew of injuries and roster losses they encountered.
- The Pittsburgh Penguins, having snapped their 16-season playoff streak, cleaned house and fired GM Ron Hextall, President Brian Burke, and AGM Chris Pryor. [NHL] New ownership group Fenway Sports Group talked about their commitment to winning. [PensBurgh]
- Josh Yohe eviscerated Hextall on his way out, basically calling him spineless with a significant amount of evidence to back up that claim. Sometimes, Yohe and Rob Rossi are annoying, but this article is scathingly juicy. [The Athletic]
- Anaheim Ducks coach Dallas Eakins’ contract was set to expire this summer, and the team will not renew it. GM Pat Verbeek inherited Eakins and kept him around for the tank. Mission accomplished, as the Ducks have the best odds at Bedard. [NHL]
- The Columbus Blue Jackets relieved coach Brad Larsen of his duties this morning, one day after their season ended. [NHL]
- And the Washington Capitals and Peter Laviolette mutually agreed to part ways on Friday. Laviolette’s contract was up, and both sides felt a change was the best move. [NHL]