(Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Islanders Point Blank founder and former SNY contributor Chris Botta will be back with us this season, posting multiple columns each week.


When we last left off about five years ago, the New York Islanders were a franchise without a long-term home -- a team entering each season merely yearning to grab one of the final playoff berths in the Eastern Conference.

While many faces - including the latest batch of intriguing young players - have changed, in the big picture, not a lot else has.

As another season starts this week, we will get caught up in the glory of John Tavares, the promise of Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier and Josh Ho-Sang, the underrated artistry of Nick Leddy, a likely return to the Stanley Cup playoffs, and all the highs and lows that come with being a passport-carrying member of Islanders Country.

This is hockey, the best game around, and heck yeah…we're going to enjoy every second of it. But not let's lose sight of what's at stake: the future of the franchise in New York, and the future of the team as a perennial contender any time soon.

Oh, is that all?

The Islanders need a new arena deal. They also need to re-sign Tavares to a long-term contract. After a quarter-century of Howard Milstein and "pigs at the trough," the tragicomedy of John Spano, and Charles Wang's "Paris Has Her Tower," it has come to this. The Islanders don't have a true home, and soon they could be without their franchise player, who wants to stay.

An end must be put to the uncertainty and mediocrity. Forget for a moment the debate over the commute, or whether the Islanders could ever prosper in the beautiful borough of Brooklyn. Forget, at least until the next guy gets hurt, that the Islanders play on a surface adequate for Moana on Ice, but sub-standard for Tavares's tap-dancing or Cizikas and Clutterbuck crashing into opponents - and that everyone knew this when the Islanders did the deal to play at the Barc.

The Islanders play in an arena built specifically for basketball. Except when they're in the playoffs - when you can play anywhere and the place would rock - the Barclays Center experience stinks. They need to get out of there soon, they're running out of time, and they have two options.

One of those options, no one wants to think about. The other is the property around Belmont Park in Elmont, Long Island, New York. This is where second-year majority owners Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky have 100 percent of their focus and more than 99 percent of their hopes. There is reason for legitimate optimism that something can get done in Elmont.

Islanders ownership has put itself in the best position to succeed. Malkin and Ledecky have deep pockets and, unlike their predecessors, they appear to know how to finesse community leaders and decision-makers. They are also being consulted on the bid by Oak View Group.

Some people have asked about the "optics" of this because OVG is owned, in part, by Madison Square Garden. This is the sports business in 2017. If you were going to build a fifth major arena in the New York-New Jersey area, you sure could do a lot worse than having the MSG Company, sports kingmaker Tim Leiweke, entertainment mogul Irving Azoff, and the highly-respected NHL and venues veteran Peter Luukko on your side.

But also remember, OVG is working on an arena in Seattle.

As we all have to accept by now, the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on the Corner of Mangano, Murray and Yormark is not an option. It's a nice little venue for a minor league town, like a Providence or Springfield. It is not a long-term NHL option in New York. Way to go, Nassau politicians!

So what's an Islanders fan to do?

The same as always. Support your team, which should be entertaining this season. Support the latest owners' latest efforts on the latest new arena plan - yeah, all over again. Put your faith in them until they prove unworthy of it.

Because keep this in mind. The following is a series of substantial quotes from Ledecky and Malkin on the future of the franchise in New York in the year since they took charge:

  •  
  •  
  •  

Their silence is not a threat. But in time, the other option could be a reality.

Hope for Belmont.

And for Tavares to stick around.

And for Doug Weight's team to take a step forward.

This is not just another year in the life of a historically successful and epically-battered franchise. You've been waiting for the Islanders to be relevant again? They're plenty relevant this season.


Today's Tweeted Question

@HockeyRebel asked via Twitter: Is Eberle the missing link for JT? Did we win the Strome trade?

The joyful, majority reaction to the trade was understandable. As of this very second, Eberle is a more accomplished and effective player than Ryan Strome. But it also felt like Strome, the talented kid the Islanders picked fifth overall in the 2011 draft, wasn't even part of the discussion. It was like people thought, "Yay, we got Eberle" and "We gave up nuthin."

This isn't the Reinhart Rip-off of 2015, when Peter Chiarelli lost his mind trading for a struggling defense prospect whose upside was misjudged by Islanders' scouts when they took him fourth overall. Credit to Garth Snow for fixing the mistake by acquiring the 16th and 33rd picks in the 2015 draft for Reinhart. The picks, the latter in a roundabout way, turned into Barzal and Beauvillier, who got out of their respective beds this morning already better hockey players than Reinhart - and could be very, very good NHLers.

Eberle has his flaws and was known to disappear for long stretches in Edmonton. Playing alongside Tavares will remedy that. Eberle should score at least 25 goals this season. Is he the missing link? No. He's just another good hockey player.

It doesn't really matter who won the trade, just that Eberle does his part. As for Strome, it's not like the Islanders gave up nothing. He has skill and he cares. He has a 50-point NHL season behind him at a young age. He's going to get a chance to play with some great players over time. I look forward to seeing if Strome gets back on track and believe he will.


Snapshots of…Zigmund Palffy

(whereby in some columns I share the first few memories that pop into my head of figures in Islanders history)

  • When Ziggy was drafted in the second round in 1991, an endearingly crusty Canadianfirst Islanders scout grumbled at the table, "Kinda early to be picking a Czechoslovakian, eh"? (Ya, he was wrong about everything).
  • Palffy wore number 68 before switching to 16. "I am not Jagr," he said. "I am Ziggy."
  • Coaches tried to turn the gifted sniper into Bob Gainey or Patrice Bergeron. To his credit, Ziggy really tried. One day, he walked off the ice after practice and through staggered breath shouted, "This backchecking is [bleeping] killing me"!
  • Ziggy learned English from watching '80s movies. His favorite was John Candy. He'd often say something so irrelevant that we'd be asking each other, "What movie is that from"? And, as some of you know, he even used movie dialogue during contract disputes. On the rare night Ziggy would have a bad game, Mike Milbury would sometimes point it out: "Hey, if he wants to be paid like a star…" When Palffy heard this, he muttered, "What does he think…every day is Christmas"? We figured it came from "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," but movie buffs are welcome to factcheck in the comments section.
  • Palffy was an absolutely wonderful player. Check out how many goals he produced on some pretty, pretty thin rosters. Even in some dark times for the franchise, he was a joy to be around. Thank you, Ziggy.

Notebook

Biron says Oui: Reached out to Martin Biron, the Sabres studio analyst on MSG Networks, for his take on the Islanders' expectations this season. Marty was a good goalie for just about every team in the area, so he's unbiased. He's also an outstanding commentator. Here's his response:

"The Islanders are going to be in a battle all the way until the end, but I believe they will make the playoffs. I really like Barzal and Ho-Sang, who I see as young stars in this league. Tavares is great, Lee works well with him and Brock Nelson should have a good season. The Islanders play a tight defensive game as a team and they'll be able to come out of top in enough low-scoring games to reach the postseason."

Watch the Flames: Always glad to see Jaromir Jagr in the NHL, but sure seems like a late, panic move for Calgary. GM Brad Treviling made the ill-advised decision to give up the Flames' 2018 first round pick in the overly-generous package to acquire Travis Hamonic. Feeling here is that a GM should never give up a first-rounder unless it's more than mid-way through the season and you know for sure that pick is going to be 20th or later. If the Flames stumble - and, like the Islanders, they have a lot of uncertainty around them - Calgary management is going to start sweating through their shirts. That first round pick could turn out to be a lot earlier than 20th.

R.I.P., Giz: The Country lost a good man on Sept. 20 when Gerry Ianarelli passed away after a battle with cancer at the age of 55. Gerry was an equipment man for the Islanders during the '90s and was a hard worker and a really kind and generous man. He will never be forgotten.

****

I'm not writing too much about the John Tavares contract situation in this first column because, well, that would be too obvious. And besides, I'm going to need the material when I come up dry down the line. Like as soon as column two.

With our thoughts with the victims of the tragedy in Las Vegas, and so much devastation in Puerto Rico, Houston, Florida and too many other places, one thing those of us far away can always do is give blood. So consider a visit to the Red Cross, New York Blood Centers, Long Island Blood Services or any collection outlet in your region.

Favorite Tom Petty song: "The Best of Everything."

As we get set for another season, this is also my wish for you.


Chris Botta worked a long time for the Islanders, started Point Blank, then wrote for The New York Times and SportsBusiness Journal. In July 2016, he started a communications consulting business, working with sports leagues and teams. Since none are affiliated with the NHL, he is writing this column from his home office, the RVC Library and the Barnes & Noble in Carle Place. He is very grateful to Islanders fans for their support and encouragement over these many years. Please send ideas and feedback by replying to him on Twitter @ChrisBottaNHL


Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling makes a save on a shot by New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic in front of New York Islanders left wing Josh Bailey during the second period at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling makes a save on a shot by New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic in front of New York Islanders left wing Josh Bailey during the second period at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks will return to action after a five-day break to host the New York Islanders on Saturday night at the United Center.

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New York Islanders head coach Doug Weight (Aaron Doster)
New York Islanders head coach Doug Weight (Aaron Doster)

Since 1991, the Islanders record in Chicago hasn't been pretty. They've won just three times in their last 19 tries in the Windy City, via Arthur Staple of Newsday. 

On Saturday night, the Islanders try their luck again at Chicago against the Blackhawks. In more recent memory, the Isles are winless since 2009 in six tries. Only twice have they escaped with a point from an overtime loss...

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Jan 19, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders interim head coach Doug Weight coaches against the Dallas Stars during the first period at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
Jan 19, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders interim head coach Doug Weight coaches against the Dallas Stars during the first period at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

After starting the season 15-7-2, the Islanders have regressed since December, going 8-13-2. Ahead of a three-game Western Conference road trip, head coach Doug Weight is looking at his best players to help pull the Islanders back on track.

John Tavares, Josh Bailey and Mathew Barzal are among the NHL's top 15 in points and Anders Lee is third in goals. That's who Weight is looking for to get even better as the season grinds on.

"It's the time of the year to follow your best players," Weight said, via Arthur Staple of Newsday...

Tags: Anders Lee, John Tavares
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Avalanche right wing Nail Yakupov celebrates after a goal scored by defenseman Patrik Nemeth as Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak and defenseman Ryan Pulock react in the first period. (AP)
Avalanche right wing Nail Yakupov celebrates after a goal scored by defenseman Patrik Nemeth as Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak and defenseman Ryan Pulock react in the first period. (AP)

Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter: The injury-ravaged Islanders have won two and lost two coming out of their league-mandated bye week, but let's be honest with each other here. They only played one solid game -- a 7-2 victory at Madison Square Garden over the Rangers.

They're going to need to be much better than a .500 hockey team if they're to crawl out of an 8-13-2 funk that has them at 53 percent of possible points -- slightly ahead of the 2013-14 team that finished 34-37-11 and out of the playoffs. As a reference point, last year's team that finished shy of the postseason by one point finished at 57 percent of possible points.

So, while the team licks its wounds, whether it be Johnny Boychuk, Casey Cizikas, Calvin de Haan, Nikolay Kulemin, Andrew Ladd, or Shane Prince, they need to figure out, once and for all, what they are doing, or attempting to do, in the defensive zone to even realistically start thinking about having a shot at Lord Stanley in April...

Tags: Anders Lee, Andrew Ladd, Calvin Pryor, Casey Cizikas, Jaroslav Halak, John Tavares, Johnny Boychuk, Jordan Eberle, Josh Bailey, Mathew Barzal, Nikolay Kulemin, Ryan Pulock, Shane Prince, Thomas Greiss, Andy Graziano
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New York Islanders center John Tavares skates before a game against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center. (Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders center John Tavares skates before a game against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center. (Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports)

Thanks to a Patrice Bergeron hat trick, the Islanders fall to the Bruins 5-2. Jordan Eberle and John Tavares scored the two goals for the Isles while the Bruins have extended their point streak to 15 games.  << Box score

First period:

  • 7:35 NYI Jordan Eberle; Assist: Mathew Barzal
  • 13:41 BOS Patrice Bergeron; Assists: Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak

Second period:

Tags: John Tavares, Jordan Eberle
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Jan 15, 2018; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Islanders players celebrate their win against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports (Jean-Yves Ahern)
Jan 15, 2018; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Islanders players celebrate their win against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports (Jean-Yves Ahern)

For the Boston Bruins, it's 14 and counting.

Fourteen consecutive games the Bruins have gained a point, a run helping vault them near the top of the Eastern Conference standings.

The Bruins attempt to gain at least one point for the 15th straight game Thursday night when they visit the New York Islanders at Barclays Center.

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New York Islanders left wing Josh Bailey (12) celebrates his goal scored against the Anaheim Ducks during the first period at Honda Center. (Gary A. Vasquez)
New York Islanders left wing Josh Bailey (12) celebrates his goal scored against the Anaheim Ducks during the first period at Honda Center. (Gary A. Vasquez)

The Islanders are finally receiving good news about injuries to their players as Josh Bailey could be ready to play Thursday against the Bruins. 

Bailey, who was out with a lower-body injury, was set to skate Wednesday at practice to see how he feels. Head coach Doug Weight thinks Bailey looks good, but practice will determine if the Isles put him in the lineup Thursday. 

"Bails is feeling pretty good," Weight told The Post's Greg Joyce before the team's loss to the Devils on Tuesday. "We'll get him on the ice [Wednesday] and see how he feels."

Tags: Josh Bailey
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Jan 16, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New Jersey Devils center Brian Boyle (11) plays the puck while being defended by New York Islanders defenseman Dennis Seidenberg (4) during the third period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
Jan 16, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New Jersey Devils center Brian Boyle (11) plays the puck while being defended by New York Islanders defenseman Dennis Seidenberg (4) during the third period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

The Islanders might have gotten lucky on Monday night against the Canadiens, but the Devils were not going to let that happen on Tuesday in a lopsided 4-1 victory. 

Montreal peppered Thomas Greiss with 56 shots on Monday, but only converted on four goals as the Isles barely skated back home with the overtime win on 24 shots. But Jaroslav Halak didn't have the same magic against New Jersey, who outshot the Islanders, 42-26. 

Anders Lee, who scored the Isles' only goal, knows his team can't continue allowing opponents to forecheck as they please. 

Tags: Anders Lee, Jaroslav Halak, John Tavares, Thomas Greiss
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Jan 16, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak (41) makes a glove save against the New Jersey Devils during the first period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
Jan 16, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak (41) makes a glove save against the New Jersey Devils during the first period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

Damon Severson scored consecutive goals less than two minutes apart in the second period as the Devils snapped the Islanders three-game winning streak, 4-1, on Tuesday night at Barclays Center. >> Box score


First period:

  • 1:39 NYI Anders Lee
  • 15:20 NJD Kyle Palmieri (PP); Assists: Sami Vatanen, Marcus Johansson

Second period:

  • 12:58 NJD Damon Severson; Assists: Brian Gibbons, Stefan Noesen
  • 14:24 NJD Severson; Assists: Ben Lovejoy, Jesper Bratt
  • 18:20 NJD Taylor Hall

Third period:

  • NONE
Tags: Anders Lee
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Jan 15, 2018; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Islanders players celebrate their win against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports (Jean-Yves Ahern)
Jan 15, 2018; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Islanders players celebrate their win against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports (Jean-Yves Ahern)

NEW YORK -- A win over the New Jersey Devils nine days ago helped snap an extended funk by the New York Islanders. The Devils will look to return the favor Tuesday night, when they again visit the Islanders in a matchup of Metropolitan Division rivals at Barclays Center.

The Islanders earned their third straight win Monday, when they edged the host Montreal Canadiens, 5-4, in overtime Monday. John Tavares' goal 1:51 into the extra session ensured a yeoman-like effort by backup goalie Thomas Greiss (a career-high 52 saves) would not go for naught for New York. >> Read more

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 (Jean-Yves Ahern)
(Jean-Yves Ahern)

John Tavares may have notched the game-winner in overtime, but the Islanders wouldn't have made it that far if it wasn't for stellar goaltending from Thomas Greiss Monday night. 

The Islanders held the lead all game long, but if there wasn't a scoreboard, one would think the Canadiens were dominating with the amount of time the puck came Greiss' way. New York was largely outshot, 56-24, but Greiss totaled 52 saves to allow his team to steal a win on the road in Montreal. 

"We don't get anywhere close to a win without him," Adam Pelech told Newsday's Arthur Staple. "For sure we wanted to win this one for what he did the whole game."

Tags: John Tavares, Thomas Greiss
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New York Islanders center John Tavares celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against Montreal Canadiens during the second period at Bell Centre. (Jean-Yves Ahern/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders center John Tavares celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against Montreal Canadiens during the second period at Bell Centre. (Jean-Yves Ahern/USA TODAY Sports)

John Tavares scored two goals, including the game-winner 1:51 into overtime after New York blew a 4-2 lead, as the Islanders beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-4 on Monday at Bell Centre. >> Box score

Tags: Anthony Beauvillier, John Tavares, Jordan Eberle, Mathew Barzal, Montreal Canadiens, Thomas Greiss, Thomas Hickey
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Winnipeg Jets defenseman Tyler Myers stick checks New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal in the first period action at Bell MTS Place. (James Carey Lauder/USA TODAY Sports)
Winnipeg Jets defenseman Tyler Myers stick checks New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal in the first period action at Bell MTS Place. (James Carey Lauder/USA TODAY Sports)

The battered New York Islanders will need rookie Mathew Barzal to stay hot as they try for three wins in a row when they play the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night at Bell Centre.

Tags: Mathew Barzal, Montreal Canadiens
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New York Islanders center John Tavares skates before a game against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center. (Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders center John Tavares skates before a game against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center. (Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports)

Atop of the Islanders' large to-do list is to make sure star C John Tavares wants to return in 2018, and it appears the All-Star would like to. 

"I hope to stay in Long Island," Tavares told Newsday's Arthur Staple. "There's a lot of positive things going forward with the organization and the team here. I haven't thought about being anywhere else but with the Islanders."

Tavares will be an unrestricted free agent after this season, as his six-yaer, $33 million deal he signed back in 2012. The Islanders have until July 1 of this year to sign Tavares before he officially hits the market. 

Tags: John Tavares
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GEICO SportsNite: Islanders 00:00:49
Fresh off of wins over the Devils and the Rangers, the Islanders discuss what they need to do to maintain success in the Metro Division.

New York Islanders center Anthony Beauvillier (72) skates with the puck in overtime against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the PPG PAINTS Arena. The Islanders won 4-3 in a shootout. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders center Anthony Beauvillier (72) skates with the puck in overtime against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the PPG PAINTS Arena. The Islanders won 4-3 in a shootout. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter

The New York Islanders returned from their league-mandated bye week and captured their second consecutive win, this one in convincing fashion, trouncing the rival New York Rangers, 7-2 at Madison Square Garden.

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 (Dennis Schneidler)
(Dennis Schneidler)

Islanders C Casey Cizikas may have to sit out awhile after suffering an "upper-body injury" against the Rangers on Saturday. 

Cizikas went down hard in the second period, and immediately left the game never to return. After the game, head coach Doug Weight couldn't believe another one of his players could be out of the equation for a significant amount of time. 

"It's getting worse, that's all I can tell you," Weight told The Post's Brett Cyrgalis. "It's upper body and it's not great. You've got to get some good looks at it, but he won't be playing the next little while, at least."

Tags: Casey Cizikas
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Dec 27, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) celebrates his goal in overtime to win the game 3-2 during the overtime period go the game between the New York Islanders and the Buffalo Sabres at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)
Dec 27, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) celebrates his goal in overtime to win the game 3-2 during the overtime period go the game between the New York Islanders and the Buffalo Sabres at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)

The Islanders resumed their 2017-18 season with a bang, beating the Rangers 7-2. Mathew Barzal enjoyed a five point afternoon, with two goals and three assists and Anthony Beauvillier scored twice and added an assist. 

First period

  • 6:06 NYI Anthony Beauvillier; Assists: Mathew Barzal, Jordan Eberle
  • 14:25 NYR Kevin Hayes (PPG); Assist: Rick Nash
  • 16:25 NYI Shane Prince; Assist: Scott Mayfield

Second period

Tags: Anthony Beauvillier, Mathew Barzal
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New York Islanders head coach Doug Weight (Aaron Doster)
New York Islanders head coach Doug Weight (Aaron Doster)

NEW YORK -- A pair of local rivals will resume their frantic race for an Eastern Conference playoff berth Saturday afternoon, when the New York Rangers host the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden.

Both the Rangers and Islanders are coming off their five-day "bye week" and will be playing for the first time since Sunday, when the visiting Rangers fell to the Vegas Golden Knights, 2-1, while the host Islanders edged the New Jersey Devils, 5-4, in the shootout.

The results further tightened an already cramped race for the Eastern Conference wild card spots. The Rangers (22-15-5) have sole possession of the first wild card in the East, one point ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes.

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GEICO SportsNite: Islanders 00:00:51
Islanders coach Doug Weight breaks down what his team needs to do in order to defeat the Rangers on Saturday.

 (Bill Streicher)
(Bill Streicher)

The Islanders first-round draft pick back in 2014, Michael Dal Colle, is set to make his NHL debut against the Rangers on Saturday. 

Dal Colle could see some significant time in his debut, according to head coach Doug Weight. His call-up was due to injuries involving Josh Bailey and Andrew Ladd, and Dal Colle may be asked to fill their void. 

"He could get north of 13, 14, or 15 (minutes), or he could get six," Weight told Newsday's Jordan Lauterbach. "He can dictate that, I'm sure he's going to work. But, I expect him to play."

Tags: Michael dal Colle
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New York Islanders right wing Josh Ho-Sang controls the puck against New York Rangers left wing Andrew Desjardins during the first period at Madison Square Garden. (Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Islanders right wing Josh Ho-Sang controls the puck against New York Rangers left wing Andrew Desjardins during the first period at Madison Square Garden. (Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports Images)

Islanders forward Joshua Ho-Sang admitted he is going through some growing pains after he was a healthy scratch from AHL Bridgeport's lineup on Wednesday.

"When you start the year in the NHL and then get scratched in the AHL in the same year, it's kind of … it's kind of mentally tough," Ho-Sang told the New York Post's Greg Joyce.

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New York Islanders center Anthony Beauvillier (72) skates with the puck in overtime against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the PPG PAINTS Arena. The Islanders won 4-3 in a shootout. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders center Anthony Beauvillier (72) skates with the puck in overtime against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the PPG PAINTS Arena. The Islanders won 4-3 in a shootout. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

The Islanders have emergency recalled Anthony Beauvillier and Michael Dal Colle from Bridgeport. Sebastian Aho has also been recalled from the organization's AHL affiliate, the team announced

On Sunday, Beauvillier and Aho were loaned to Bridgeport during the Islanders break in schedule. Dal Colle is yet to make his NHL debut. 

Beauvillier, 20, has played 32 games with the Islanders this season. He's accumulated 8 points, with 5 goals and 3 assists and is a minus-9. In 66 games with the Islanders last season, he had 24 points with 9 goals and 15 assists and was a plus-1. Beauvillier was a first round pick of the Isles in 2015...

Tags: Anthony Beauvillier, Michael dal Colle
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Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of the ice before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of the ice before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky is "confident" that his club will play some games at Nassau Coliseum while their new arena is being built at Belmont Park.

However, in the same breath, Ledecky also tossed cold water on the notion that the Isles would play at their former home on a full-time basis during the construction of their new home. The Islanders called the Coliseum home from 1972-2015 before moving to Brooklyn.

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Jan 4, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) celebrates his goal with right wing Josh Bailey (12) against the Philadelphia Flyers during the third period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Hartline)
Jan 4, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) celebrates his goal with right wing Josh Bailey (12) against the Philadelphia Flyers during the third period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Hartline)

John Tavares and Josh Bailey have been named to the NHL All-Star Game's Metropolitan Division team, the Islanders announced Wednesday.

The 27-year-old Tavares will make be playing in his fourth consecutive All-Star game and fifth overall. Tavares leads the Islanders with 22 goals and 51 points in 43 games. New York's captain is tied for fifth in the NHL in goals and is sixth in points. A free agent at the conclusion of the season, Tavares is on pace to eclipse his personal bests of 38 and 86 points, both established during the 2014-15 campaign. 

Tags: John Tavares, Josh Bailey
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New York Islanders center John Tavares (Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders center John Tavares (Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports)

John Tavares should not, and almost certainly will not, be dealt by the Islanders prior to the NHL trade deadline on Feb. 26.

The question of whether Tavares should be traded - instead of the Islanders potentially losing him in July as an unrestricted free agent for nothing in return - continues to be raised in league circles and by columnists.

To be clear, the view here is that Tavares should not be traded. The return is unlikely to match the damage done by giving up on trying to re-sign him.

Tags: John Tavares, Chris Botta
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NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, along with others, visited the newly renovated Nassau Coliseum Tuesday to see if it could be a temporary home for the Islanders, per Newsday's Jim Baumbach. 

The Islanders received word that they will likely get the official lease to the Belmont Park property in Spring 2019 after an "environmental review process" that will start in March, and would likely take "12 to 16 months." With the team's current lease at Barclays Center up after the 2018 season, they will need to find a one-year home as the arena would be ready until the 2020-21 season, barring any setbacks. 

The Coliseum was never in play as the team's permanent residence, but one year while the new arena is built wouldn't hurt. This is why Bettman, along with Isles' co-owner Jon Ledecky, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment CEO Brett Yormark, and Long Island Association CEO Kevin Law, toured the Coliseum to see exactly what was renovated. 

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Dec 5, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) skates with the puck as Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) defends during the first period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Dec 5, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) skates with the puck as Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) defends during the first period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

Islanders C Brock Nelson's name has been floated as a possible trade option by Elliotte Friedman of SportsNet, who says "there will be interest" in the 26-year-old.

 

Tags: Brock Nelson
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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

The Islanders are likely to receive an official lease from Empire State Development for the Belmont property in Spring 2019 following an environmental review process, per Newsday's Jim Baumbach.

The environmental review could take about "12 to 16 months" as it starts this March. In the meantime, the Islanders and Barclays Center are currently discussing interim arena plans considering the arena won't be ready until the 2020-21 season at the earliest. They are set to play at Barclays Center next season, after which their home is up in the air. 

The NHL has noted they are open to a Nassau Coliseum reunion for the Islanders if need be. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told The Post it would be up to the Islanders if that move back to the Coliseum happens. 

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GEICO SportsNite: Islanders 00:00:28
John Tavares breaks down the Islanders' 5-4 win over the Devils and discusses the importance of ending the team's five-game losing streak.

The Devils and Islanders engaged in a back-and-forth contest through three periods, but after a scoreless overtime, Brock Nelson made the game-winner in a shootout to help the Islanders defeat the Devils, 5-4. >> Box score

Tags: Brock Nelson
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New York Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan skates with the puck in the third period against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre. (Marc DesRosiers/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan skates with the puck in the third period against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre. (Marc DesRosiers/USA TODAY Sports)

NEW YORK -- The only thing the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils need more than the NHL's version of a "bye week" is a win heading into their time off.

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Apr 6, 2017; Raleigh, NC, USA; New York Islanders head coach Doug Weight looks on from behind the players bench against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The New York Islanders defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports (James Guillory)
Apr 6, 2017; Raleigh, NC, USA; New York Islanders head coach Doug Weight looks on from behind the players bench against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The New York Islanders defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports (James Guillory)

Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter

The New York Islanders limp into the final game before the league-mandated five-day bye with questions being asked of them by head coach Doug Weight and the entire fanbase about their heart, grit, and battle level. 

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New York Islanders right wing Josh Bailey scores a goal past San Jose Sharks goalie Aaron Dell during the second period at Barclays Center. (Andy Marlin/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders right wing Josh Bailey scores a goal past San Jose Sharks goalie Aaron Dell during the second period at Barclays Center. (Andy Marlin/USA TODAY Sports)

The Islanders lost to the Penguins 4-0 on Friday night and the game may prove to be more costly than it just being the team's fifth straight loss.

Josh Bailey, who's tied for the team lead in points (50) with John Tavares, left in the first period with a lower-body injury. He did not return to the game and is likely to be out for the team's next game against the Devils on Sunday.

"I don't have a substantial report," Doug Weight said after the game, via Kyle Schnitzer of NY Post. "Obviously, he didn't return so it's not great. … I think he looks like I wouldn't expect to see him, but maybe it's a good time for a break."

Tags: Andrew Ladd, Josh Bailey, Ryan Pulock
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New York Islanders center Anthony Beauvillier (72) skates with the puck in overtime against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the PPG PAINTS Arena. The Islanders won 4-3 in a shootout. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders center Anthony Beauvillier (72) skates with the puck in overtime against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the PPG PAINTS Arena. The Islanders won 4-3 in a shootout. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

The Islanders have recalled forward Anthony Beauvillier, the organization announced.

Beauvillier, 20, has played in 31 games with the Islanders this season. He's accumulated 7 points, with 4 goals and 3 assists and is a minus-8. In 66 games with the Islanders last season, he had 24 points with 9 goals and 15 assists. He was a plus-1.

The forward scored two goals with the Islanders' AHL affiliate, Bridgeport Sound Tigers, on Friday. He was drafted 28th overall by the Islanders in 2015.

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Nov 25, 2017; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson (41) makes a save on a shot from New York Islanders left wing Anders Lee (27) in the first period at Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)
Nov 25, 2017; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson (41) makes a save on a shot from New York Islanders left wing Anders Lee (27) in the first period at Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)

By losing to Sidney Crosby and the Penguins 4-0 Friday night, the Islanders losing streak has grown to five games. 

The Islanders have conceded no fewer than four goals in any of the five games, leaking 21 goals in total. Their normally steller offense has largely failed to pick up the pieces, scoring more than two goals in just one of the five losses.

In a word, the players are frustrated with themselves. Anders Lee gave voice to that after Friday night's loss.

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 (Andy Marlin)
(Andy Marlin)

The Islanders dropped their fifth straight game as the Penguins shut them out at Barclays Center, 4-0, Friday night. << Box Score

No offense came in the first period, but the Penguins changed that early in the second when Daniel Sprong got one passed Jaroslav Halak just 41 seconds into the period. 

After Ryan Pulock was called for tripping at 2:09, Evgeni Malkin capitalized on the power play. Sidney Crosby would notch his third point of a four-point night on a goal at 15:50 in the period to break it wide open. 

Tags: Jaroslav Halak
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Nov 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) makes a save in front of Philadelphia Flyers left wing Michael Raffl (12) during first period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports  (Noah K. Murray)
Nov 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) makes a save in front of Philadelphia Flyers left wing Michael Raffl (12) during first period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Islanders G Thomas Greiss ended Jaroslav Halak's six-game start streak in net Thursday night against the Flyers, but it wasn't a game to remember. 

Greiss had another game where he allowed at least five goals, which is now the fifth time in the last six starts it has happened. 

"In speaking with Thomas, he's frustrated," head coach Doug Weight told Newsday's Brian Heyman. "That's for sure. He looked to be aggressive...He's got to keep fighting. He battled in the third period. I thought he continued to compete and let us get back into the game in that last 15 minutes."

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Jan 2, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) plays the puck against Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo (25) during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Jan 2, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) plays the puck against Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo (25) during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

NEW YORK -- A pair of struggling Metropolitan Division teams looking to avoid losses on back-to-back nights will square off Friday when the New York Islanders host the Pittsburgh Penguins at Barclays Center.

Both teams fell further behind in the jam-packed Eastern Conference playoff picture Thursday, when the Penguins were blanked by the host Carolina Hurricanes 4-0 and the visiting Islanders suffered their fourth straight loss when they could not complete a three-goal comeback in a 6-4 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

The results Thursday should lend some urgency to Friday's game for both teams. The Islanders (20-17-4) fell out of a tie for the second wild card spot by virtue of their loss and the Hurricanes' win while the Penguins (20-19-3), the reigning Stanley Cup champions, are three points behind Carolina and one point ahead of the last-place Flyers in the Metropolitan. << Read more

 

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New York Islanders head coach Doug Weight (Aaron Doster)
New York Islanders head coach Doug Weight (Aaron Doster)

All along, it appeared to just about everyone that the Islanders' problems were goaltending and team defense. But after the words of head coach Doug Weight at practice Wednesday and then after the 6-4 loss in Philadelphia on Thursday, you have to wonder if something else is wrong with the team.

On Wednesday, Weight questioned the psyche of his team.

"We have some young players, but it's time for our group to lose the frailty BS," he said.

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Mar 24, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders right wing Cal Clutterbuck (15) and goalie Jaroslav Halak (41) celebrate a shootout win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the PPG PAINTS Arena. The Islanders won 4-3 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)
Mar 24, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders right wing Cal Clutterbuck (15) and goalie Jaroslav Halak (41) celebrate a shootout win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the PPG PAINTS Arena. The Islanders won 4-3 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)

The Islanders fall to the Flyers 6-4 after a disastrous second period that saw the team hemorrhage four goals. 

Cal Clutterbuck scored a pair and John Tavares added a powerplay goal, but it wasn't enough to overcome six goals against. << Box score

First period

Tags: Cal Clutterbuck, John Tavares
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Dec 23, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) celebrates his first hat trick during the third period between the New York Islanders and the Winnipeg Jets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)
Dec 23, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) celebrates his first hat trick during the third period between the New York Islanders and the Winnipeg Jets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)

PHILADELPHIA -- After suffering identical 5-1 home losses on Tuesday night, the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders should be playing with some added intensity when they meet Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers (16-15-8) allowed four second-period goals by the Pittsburgh Penguins in their lopsided defeat, their fourth loss in five games.

"It was a good chance to kind of make a statement and get back in the standings," Flyers center Sean Couturier told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "We lost that chance, but at the same time, there are 40-some games left (43, to be exact). Lots of hockey left."

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New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield (42) during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. (Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield (42) during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. (Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

The Islanders have agreed to a five-year contract extension with D Scott Mayfield, the team announced Thursday.

The deal is worth an average of $1.45 million annually, according to Newsday.

Mayfield, 25, has two goals and eight assists in 29 games with the Isles this season, and leads the team with 35 penalty minutes.

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GEICO SportsNite: Isles approach 00:00:54
Islanders head coach Doug Weight and John Tavares are looking forward to their next stretch of games against Metro Division opponents.

 (Timothy T. Ludwig)
(Timothy T. Ludwig)

Kieffer BellowsOtto Koivula and Robin Salo were already high on the Islanders' prospect list. The trio has done nothing to change that perception with their performances in the 2018 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship taking place in Buffalo, NY.

While Koivula and Salo's Finnish team was eliminated in the quarterfinals against the Czech Republic, Bellows will take his tourney-leading six goals for Team USA into Thursday's semifinals matchup with Sweden on Thursday. The Isles' 2016 first-round pick scored twice -- including the go-ahead tally in the third period -- in USA's 4-2 win over Russia on Tuesday.

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Jan 2, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Tanner Fritz (56) during the first period against the Boston Bruins at Barclays Center. Fritz is making his NHL debut. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Jan 2, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Tanner Fritz (56) during the first period against the Boston Bruins at Barclays Center. Fritz is making his NHL debut. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Islanders head coach Doug Weight is hoping winger Tanner Fritz, who was called up from Bridgeport Monday, can spark his struggling third line.

Fritz, who leads the Sound Tigers with 35 points in 29 games this season, didn't expect to see his NHL debut at this point in his career. However, Weight made it known that Fritz was suiting up against the Bruins Tuesday night, and he officially checked that milestone off his list. 

"A couple years ago I don't think I would've seen myself in this position but I kept working hard, working at my game, trying to get better each day," Fritz told Newsday's Arthur Staple.  "I'm thankful I've gotten a couple good opportunities and I've taken advantage of those."

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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

It was close, but then it got ugly after the Bruins poured in three, third-period goals to stomp the Islanders at home Tuesday night. 

After a 5-8-2 record last month, head coach Doug Weight wanted his team to turn the page and look toward brighter things in the new year. However, he saw more darkness overcome his squad, and it is beginning to take a toll on everyone. 

"Adversity is hitting us between the eyes right now as a group, as a staff, as players. We've gotta find a way," Weight told The Post's Greg Joyce. "If you're going to use words like flat or a little sluggish at times in the second and third [periods], getting overpowered, it's concerning. But it's not going away. We got three really big games and we gotta figure it out. We gotta go to work [Wednesday] and get back our mojo, our fierceness that we seemed to have let drift."

Tags: John Tavares
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Jan 2, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) plays the puck against Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo (25) during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Jan 2, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) plays the puck against Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo (25) during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The Boston Bruins turned a tight game into an easy victory on Tuesday night when they scored four unanswered goals to defeat the Islanders, 5-1, at Barclays Center. >> Box score

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General view of the ice before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers (Brad Penner)
General view of the ice before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers (Brad Penner)

NEW YORK -- The Boston Bruins hope to begin 2018 by picking up where they left off in 2017. The New York Islanders, meanwhile, need a fresh start more than perhaps any playoff contender.

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