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New York Islanders

Islanders Remaining Focused on Game 2 After Lee Hit on Backstrom

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The New York Islanders focus is on Game 2. Not any retribution that may come their way because of the hit that Anders Lee laid on Nicklas Backstrom in the series opener.

The hit did not sit well with the Capitals and head coach Todd Reirden called it “predatory” after the Islanders defeated the Caps 4-2. Backstrom and Lee came together hard in the Islanders end as Lee was coming across the ice.

The Islander captain hit Backstrom in the chest sending him hard to the ice. Backstrom did not have the puck at the time of the collision.

Islanders coach Barry Trotz understood where Reirden was coming from with his comments the previous night, but added little more when asked about them.

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“Player safety looks at it. They have good hockey people,” Trotz said told reporters on Thursday. “Todd was doing what you expect a coach to do. Defend his players. I don’t have anything on that reaction at all.”

Cal Clutterbuck echoed a similar sentiment when he was asked about it on Thursday.

“It’s a hit. It happens in the course of a hockey game, especially a playoff game,” Clutterbuck said. “There’s people in place at player safety to take a look at those types of things. They’re going to do that. We’re focused on Game 2.

Reirden announced on Thursday that Backstrom will miss Game 2 due to concussion protocol.

The hit adds more juice to an already juiced up series between the Islanders and Capitals. The two clubs played a very physical affair in Game 1 that saw plenty of skirmishes break out early on in the first period.

Reirden wasn’t the only one irked by the hit by Lee. John Carlson and T.J. Oshie both thought the league should take a second look at it for any supplementary discipline. Tom Wilson, who is no stranger to questionable hits himself, called it “fuel for the fire” for the Capitals.

“Obviously we didn’t like the hit,” Wilson said Thursday. “Nicky is our star player. He’s a leader for us and you never want to see a guy go down, especially a guy like that. We’re going to do our best to play for him and step in.”

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FishBulb

Good, let the Caps be focused on the hit. They’d be nuts to try any retaliation down a game in the series. Isles focus should be on Holtby. He was shaky in game 1, so get to him early in game 2.

New York Islanders

SHOT AT REDEMPTION! Islanders Lineup, Matchups and Game Notes vs. Boston

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New York Islanders lineup vs. the Boston Bruins

Take a deep breath Islanders country, Semyon Varlamov is able to be part of the New York Islanders lineup in today’s game against the Boston Bruins.

The veteran netminder will be available for the Islanders when they host Boston this afternoon at the Nassau Coliseum. It will mark the first time the Islanders have played at home since March 7 of last year when they lost to the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime.

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More importantly, it will be a chance for the Islanders lineup to redeem themselves after an ugly loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday.

“Obviously that wasn’t the game that we wanted, the outcome we wanted,” Scott Mayfield said this morning. “I think this season another wrinkle in it is that every game is pretty much a four-point game. You’re right on to the next one. You don’t have a lot of time to think about it and we just have to focus on Boston now.”

Despite some thought to the contrary, it appears as though head coach Barry Trotz will use a similar Islanders lineup to the one that was on the ice against the Rangers. The Islanders coach said that he wanted to give the group a chance at a bit of redemption.

News that Varlamov is also welcomed news after he missed his scheduled start on Saturday after taking a shot up high in warmups. Ilya Sorokin made his NHL debut and allowed five goals in the shutout loss to the Rangers.

County Exec Laura Curran Remains Hopeful Fans will Be Allowed in Coliseum This Season

Trotz was not happy with the team’s performance all around that night, from injuring their own goaltender to the sloppy play in the game.

“The game wasn’t lost in terms of the Xs and the Os of the game,” Trotz said. “The game was lost in terms of the focus and the mindset that we had going into that game. Our team has always been pretty resilient and we started focusing on the wrong things. … where we went off the rails was our mindset and those are the things you can control internally.”

While Boston isn’t coming off a lopsided loss like the Isles, they did suffer a heartbreaking one on Saturday in overtime to the New Jersey Devils. Boston also has not scored a five-on-five goal through the first two games of the year.

Boston will start Tuuka Rask in net against the Islanders and Odrej Kase will be out with an upper-body injury. Jack Studnicka will take his place in the lineup.

New York  Islanders Lineup (Projected)

Anders Lee — Mathew Barzal — Jordan Eberle

Anthony Beauvillier — Brock Nelson — JosBailey

Ross Johnston — Jean-Gabriel Pageau — Kieffer Bellows

Matt Martin — Casey Cizikas — Cal Clutterbuck

Adam Pelech — Ryan Pulock

NickLeddy — Scott Mayfield

Andy Greene — Noah Dobson

Semyon Varlamov

Ilya Sorokin

Boston Bruins Lineup (Projected)

Brad Marchand –- Patrice Bergeron –- Jake DeBrusk

Nick Ritchie –- David Krejci –- JackStudnicka

Anders Bjork –- Charlie Coyle –- Greg McKegg

Trent Frederic –- Sean Kuraly –- Chris Wagner

Jeremy Lauzon –- Charlie McAvoy

Matt Grzelcyk –- Brandon Carlo

Jakub Zboril –- Kevan Miller

Tuukka Rask

Jaro Halak

Game Notes

The Islanders have three players who have active consecutive game streaks of at least 200 games (Lee 270, Nelson 247, Barzal 234). … Ilya Sorokin was the first Islanders’ goaltender to make their NHL debut against the New York Rangers. … The Islanders have struggled against Boston. They are 1-7-2 in their last 10 games against Boston and the Islanders have not won against them at home since 2013. … This afternoon wraps up a three-game road trip for Boston, which played the New Jersey Devils twice to open the season. … Brandon Carlo is playing his 300th NHL game and Matt Grzelcyk is playing his 200th NHL game today. … David Pastrnak is one assist shy of 200 in his career.

How to Watch

Today’s game will air locally on MSG+ or it is streamable on MSG Go or on NHL.tv outside of the New York market. NBCSN will also air the game nationally outside of the market. On the radio dial, the game can be heard on 1050 AM ESPN, 88.7 FM WRHU and 103.9 FM LI News Radio.

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County Exec Laura Curran Remains Hopeful Fans will Be Allowed in Coliseum This Season

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An inside view of the New York Islanders home arena
Photo Credit: Darren McGee- Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

When it comes to the idea of fans attending New York Islanders games at the Nassau Coliseum this season, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran isn’t giving up hope.

The Islanders open the home portion of their schedule on Monday against the Boston Bruins, but the home opener will have a different feel in front of an empty building. The 2020-21 season is the final year the Islanders will play at the Coliseum, with their new home at Belmont Park slated to open this fall.

“Never say never would be my motto,” county executive Curran told NYI Hockey Now about the prospects of fans attending games at some point. The Nassau County Executive spoke with NYI Hockey Now over the phone on Sunday.

There’s been renewed hope that fans might be able to return to sporting events in New York in a limited capacity following the success of the Buffalo Bills allowing 6,700 fans to their two playoff games at Bills Stadium. Fans were allowed to attend after being tested for COVID-19 before entering the stadium and adhering to social distancing rules once inside the venue.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressed a desire to use the Bills model to open up other sports and entertainment venues in the state.

County Exec Laura Curran Cheering on New York Islanders from Quarantine

The county executive acknowledged the success of the Bills plan, while also noting that there was a difference with the NFL team playing outdoors. Nassau County also has to weigh the financial benefits of opening the building to a limited number of fans if they get to that point.

“One thing you have to think about is even limited attendance, say 25 percent, is a real economic loser for the building,” Curran said. “You don’t have the people buying concessions and beer and all that. You still have the cost of opening, the cost of security and staffing. It might not be worth it.”

The county executive said that the Islanders were exploring what that number might need to be to make it economically feasible to open the Nassau Coliseum to fans, but that it was still too early to come up with a solid figure for that.

Nassau County has been having ongoing conversations with the state government about how to adapt the Bills plan for the Islanders and other venues on Long Island, Curran said.

The county executive has been a vocal supporter of both the Islanders’ UBS Arena at Belmont Park and the team’s early full-time return to Long Island before the opening of the new venue this fall. Curran lobbied NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to allow the Isles to play all their home games at Nassau Coliseum during their final year before the move to Belmont Park.

On Jan. 29, Gov. Cuomo announced that the Islanders would return to the Coliseum for one full final season during a press conference at the team’s long time home.

“This is the last season, I wrote that letter to Gary Bettman saying can we have the last season at the Barn,” Curran said. “He said yes, so I’d at least like to have something. Some fan activity there if we can. It depends on the vaccine. It depends on what the state allows us to do in terms of capacity and it depends on what makes sense financially for the building.”

During an interview with News 12 Long Island, the county executive expressed optimism that fans could be allowed back in the building in time for the playoffs. It was a sentiment she reiterated during her conversation with NYI Hockey Now.

“I do believe it’s within the realm of possibility,” she said.

There was some question last year whether the Islanders would even be able to play at the Nassau Coliseum or not after the venue was shuttered by Onexim Sports and Entertainment in June. The county was able to work out a deal so that businessman Nick Mastroianni would take over the lease and operations of the venue.

“It’s county property so he is now our tenant until we work out a longer-term deal,” Curran said. “This was a good way to handle this moment, especially if we can open up. Especially if we can have games in the Coliseum we needed someone there ready to operate the building and he’s doing that.”

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New York Islanders

VIDEO REVIEW: A Breakdown of Ilya Sorokin’s NHL Debut

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Ilya Sorokin
Photo Credit: New York Islanders

Playing in your first National Hockey League game is a nerve-racking experience, no matter the position. There is usually some notice well before a rookie makes their debut, but Ilya Sorokin didn’t have that luxury on Saturday night. 

After an unfortunate circumstance during warmups led to New York Islanders starter Semyon Varlamov having to miss the game forcing head coach Barry Trotz to call on the 25-year-old Russian netminder. With no time to mentally prepare, Sorokin was thrown right into the deep end, without being able to get his feet wet first. 

During the two weeks of training camp, Sorokin looked like he had complete confidence in his puck-stopping ability, coming out aggressively to cut off angles, and using his strong lateral movement to deny scoring opportunities.  

But on Saturday, Sorokin did not look like the guy we saw in practice.

After sixty minutes of play, Sorokin allowed five goals on 32 shots, as the Islanders fell 5-0 to the Rangers in an ugly performance. He stopped eight of nine while his team was shorthanded, but regardless he started his NHL career with an .844 save percentage and a goals-against-average of 5.11.

Despite how the outcome may look on the stat sheet, this game was not on Sorokin. 

Following the game, Trotz said that the Islanders “hung Sorokin out to dry.” Captain Anders Lee added that the team needed to play much better in front of Sorokin.

“He deserves much better than that,” Lee said. 

There were some key rookie mistakes on Ilya Sorokin’s part too. He isn’t totally off the hook for some of the pucks that entered the net.

A little over two minutes into the contest, Sorokin was unable to stop his second NHL shot. Although it was an excellent play by the Rangers, this puck was stoppable, and one Sorokin would want back.

As Mika Zibanejad came down Sorokin’s left side, the talented centerman never signaled he planned on shooting. Sorokin misread the play, as he was already down on his knees before Zibanejad passed the puck over to Pavel Buchnevich in the slot. The athletic goalie did what he could to get over, as he pushed off his glove-side post to meet Buchnevich.

Ilya Sorokin moved laterally across his goal-line rather than out towards the top of the crease, as failing to cut off more of an angle before the shot beat him seven-hole, glove side. 

Sorokin should have exploded off his post and attacked the Rangers’ fifth-year winger, to give him less net to look at. Even with misreading the play, Sorokin gave himself a high chance of making the save. He made it over in time for the shot, but failed to track the puck.

If he had read the play correctly he probably would have made the save. 

With under seven minutes to play in the first period, the Rangers got their second goal against Sorokin after Artemi Panarin capitalized on a breakaway.

Even with the result, Ilya Sorokin played this one correctly. As Panarin came in on him, the young goaltender never moved back in his crease and did what he could to make himself look as big as possible. Unfortunately, he just got beat by one of the best shooters the NHL has to offer. 

The third goal to get past Sorokin came roughly six minutes into the middle frame, as Buchnevich beat Sorokin yet again. 

With defenseman Scott Mayfield getting tangled up with the linesman, Buchnevich came down the wing and unleashed an absolute snipe into the top right corner of the net. Sorokin played him as bad as you can play a shooter. 

The replay below gives us a better view of what went wrong. 

If you pause the video at 0:27, you see Sorokin positioned with his right skate on the wrong side of the post, exposing his glove side completely. As you continue watching, you can see that Sorokin continued to move back in his crease, which made matters worse. It was a brilliant shot and may have beaten him either way, but Sorokin gave himself no chance at making the save due to the mistakes.

The remaining two goals against were out of Sorokin’s hands. The fourth one was a beautiful tic-tac-toe play and the fifth coming on the Ranger’s eighth powerplay of the game.

Despite coming out with the loss, Sorokin got an NHL game under his belt. A game like this is part of the development process, and there should be zero cause for concern this early in his NHL career. 

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