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The Landlubber’s Guide to the New York Islanders

All the info on the other New York team

NHL: JAN 25 All-Star Game

Hey you. You’re swept up in all this Seattle Kraken hype. You want to know more about hockey but don’t know where to start. Well, we want to help make these games easy and fun for you to watch.

Throughout the season, we’ll release Landlubber’s Guides designed with the new fan in mind. This includes basic need-to-know info for you to absorb before you watch Kraken games and highlights.

Let’s dive into the New York Islanders.

Are they any good?

Somewhat surprisingly, they have not been all that good this year. The Islanders have made it all the way to the Conference Finals each of the last two seasons, falling to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning in each outing. They’ve got a Stanley Cup winning head coach in Barry Trotz, and were expected to finish at or near the top of the Metropolitan division this season. Early returns, however, have not been great.

The Islanders began the season with 13 straight road games as the finishing touches were put on their new arena. That’s a long stretch of travel for anybody, and as a result they came home with only 5 wins in that span. They had an early season 11-game losing streak too. But they’ve turned it around quite a bit of late, as they get to play more home games and have fewer players on Covid protocol. They’ve won 8 of their last 12, including last night’s 4-1 win over the Ottawa Senators.

Who should I look out for?

  • Mathew Barzal (#13, Center) - The former Calder trophy winner has led the Islanders in points in each of his first four seasons, and is currently doing it again in his fifth. He seemed to cool off a bit earlier this year, but now has 6 points in his last 7 games, including this goal last night:
  • Ilya Sorokin (#30, Goalie) - Only in his second season in the NHL, Sorokin has already taken over starting duties in net in New York, and for good reason. The 26-year old has the 6th-best save percentage in the NHL right now and is capable of doing things like this:
  • Adam Pelech (#3, Defense) - The first-time All-Star Adam Pelech doesn’t put up gaudy point totals, but that’s just fine as far as the Islanders are concerned. Pelech is one of the better defensive defensemen in the league. He won’t make life easy on anyone trying to carry the puck through the neutral zone.

Any Seattle ties?

Yes, two actually! Remember Mathew Barzal, from the last section in here? He’s actually Seattle hockey royalty. Barzal spent four years with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, winning the only league championship in team history in 2017. He’s fifth all-time in career points for the T-Birds despite playing in just 202 games with the team (the rest of the top-10 all played in at least 260 games with Seattle).

The other Seattle connection is actually with the Islanders’ AHL affiliate: Thomas Hickey. Hickey is another former long-time Thunderbird, spending 4+ seasons in Seattle. He’s 3rd all-time among defensemen in points in T-Birds history. He won’t make an appearance tonight, but still deserving of a shoutout.

Odds & Ends

  • The Kraken selected Jordan Eberle in the expansion draft, a move I don’t think anyone here questions at all. Eberle is the first ever Kraken All-Star, after all.
  • Defenseman Ryan Pulock is back in the Islanders lineup after missing all of December and January with a lower body injury. He’s a big threat quarterbacking the power play, as he can fire the puck in excess of 100 mph.
  • The Isles have allowed just 20 goals in their last 10 games, a hallmark of a Barry Trotz-led team with a high-end goaltender.
  • The towering Zdeno Chara is playing in his 1644th career game tonight. He’s on a pace to set the record for most games played by a defenseman in NHL history by season’s end.

The puck drops at the all-new UBS Arena at 4pm Pacific tonight. Catch all the action on ROOT Sports NW if you’re in the northwest or on ESPN+ for out-of-market subscribers.