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New York Islanders

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Islanders Shutout Flyers in Game 1 Win

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New York Islanders celebrate goal

If anyone was still questioning Lou Lamoriello’s decision to add Andy Greene and Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Game 1 of the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers Second Round series is a reminder of why they were added.

Greene and Pageau each scored for the Islanders and Semyon Varlamov made 29 saves to lead the Islanders to a 4-0 win. The deadline acquisitions bookended the game with goals in the first and third periods and Varlamov held the Flyers at bay in the middle 20 minutes.

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Anders Lee added a goal of his own and Devon Toews scored an empty netter.

“We went into this game looking at ourselves and going out there making sure we did what we needed to do,” Lee said. “I think we did a pretty good job of jumping on and getting the first goal. Greener and (Brock Nelson) making that play I think that really gave us some jump. And Varly stood on his head a few times. … I think we, for the most part, were able to put two periods together that made the difference.”

The win puts the New York Islanders ahead 1-0 in the series, which is their first postseason meeting with Philadelphia since the 1987 playoffs. The Flyers historically have gotten the better of the Islanders, with New York’s only series victory coming in the 1980 Stanley Cup Final.

Varlamov Won’t Go Unnoticed Any Longer During Isles Playoff Run | NYHN+

Varlamov did his best to channel his inner Billy Smith during the second period. The New York Islanders netminder was peppered with shots throughout the middle frame as the Flyers titled the ice in their favor. Philadelphia finished the second with 15 shots on net, but failed to get one by Varlamov.

The Game 1 win was the second consecutive shutout Varlamov has had in the playoffs. He has not surrendered a goal in 136:20.

“The guys played unbelievable again today in front of me,” Varlamov said when asked about his performance. “Greener made some big saves in the first period, so I appreciate that. It feels good to get back-to-back shutouts, but at this point it’s not about shutouts. It’s about playoff hockey. For me, the most important thing is to get the win and get ready for the next game.

“I’m not really focusing on that right now. Of course, I am excited about it, I’m not going to lie, but it is what it is.”

It was the Islanders deadline pickups who led the charge offensively in the series-opening win. Both Greene and Pageau have proven invaluable to the Islanders since the postseason started earlier this month.

Greene recorded his first goal of the postseason and has been a stabilizing force on the blue line after Johnny Boychuk was injured in the first game of the Qualifying Round. Greene made a stellar defensive play in the first period when he came up with a big block on a Claude Giroux.

“We’re a team from top to bottom,” Andy Greene said when asked about his impact. “We need every single guy out there. Every night. Every game and when we do that we’re a very good team. … It’s just not about one guy. it’s about the group of five and six of us out on the ice there.”

Pageau now has five goals in the playoffs, which is second-most among all Islanders forwards.

Greene scored at the 6:06 mark of the first period off a shot from the point. The Islanders defenseman was able to get the slapshot off uncontested after receiving a pass from  Brock Nelson.

The goal snapped a 40-game postseason goalless drought for Greene, which dated back to April 16, 2010. Greene is the 10th NHL player to go 10 or more years between playoff goals.

The Islanders made it a two-goal lead 2:54 into the third period. Ross Johnston and Leo Komarov forced the puck away from the Flyers behind Carter Hart’s net and fed a wide-open Pageau for the goal.

New York extended the lead to 3-0 with a goal from Lee off the rush at the 8:50 mark of the third. Toews scored on the empty net at 12:21.

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New York Islanders

Coach Boychuk? Former Defenseman Helps Coaches During Islanders Practice

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Johnny Boychuk

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. — There was a familiar face on the ice at Northwell Ice Center. Johnny Boychuk helped out the New York Islanders coaching staff during Saturday’s practice as the team prepared for Sunday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.

Boychuk ended his 13 year NHL career in November due to an eye injury and was placed on LTIR at the start of this season. Saturday was not Boychuk’s first time on the ice for practice, having worked with the taxi squad players and he had been on the ice at times during training camp.

Boychuk has been seen around the organization publically several times this week. On Monday, the MSG broadcast caught Boychuk sitting next to Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello in a suite at Nassau Coliseum.

His continued presence around the Islanders organization has been a welcomed one by the rest of the team.

“It’s great for us. We love Johnny,” Josh Bailey said after practice. “We’ll take him as much as we can get him. It would have been tough to just more or less go cold turkey and not see him. He’s been such a big part of our dressing room for a long time. To get to have him out on the ice with us and to see him on a daily basis has been really great.”

Additionally, Boychuk had been skating with Mathew Barzal while he and the team sorted out his new contract the first week of training camp.


Josh Bailey became the first Islander to deal head-on with a COVID-related issue this season.

The veteran forward missed a day of practice this week and was briefly on the COVID-protocol list before returning to the lineup the following day. Bailey, along with the rest of the team, has been adhering to the COVID protocols, but potentially came into contact with the virus after his youngest son’s teacher tested positive for COVID-19.

A few days later when Bailey went to check on his son he noticed that he sounded a little sick and had a bit of a cough, the Islanders forward said. They had him tested and it came back positive for the virus.

The result ended up being a false positive and Bailey’s son tested negative twice over the following two days.

“For a couple of days there it was touch and go, but at the same time it all worked out,” Bailey said.

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New York Islanders

BACK AT THE BARN: What It Was Like Being at an Empty Nassau Coliseum for a Game

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The New York Islanders home rink of Nassau Coliseum

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Prior to this week, the last time the New York Islanders had stepped foot on Nassau Coliseum ice was March 7, 2020. While it was only 10 months ago, in retrospect it seems like a lifetime ago.

COVID-19 had only just started to creep into the sports universe. What would transpire a week later wasn’t even imaginable at the time. So there was a sense of familiarity and brief normalcy when I walked into the Coliseum on Monday afternoon for the Islanders home opener against the Boston Bruins.

under normal circumstances, in January I am usually fully engulfed in the Islanders season. Weekends are planned around game and practice coverage, or that odd trip on the road with the Islanders. Instead, the first few months of the traditional hockey season were spent wondering if there would even be hockey games to cover at all.

To say I was looking forward to being at Monday’s game would be an understatement.

Nassau Coliseum exterior Walking into the Nassau Coliseum you were quickly reminded of the current state of the world. Signs about the need to wear a mask at all times inside the building were everywhere, as were Purell hand sanitizing stations. Security checked our temperature at the door and media members and staff entering had to fill out a COVID-19 questionnaire.

It’s a similar procedure for those of us that attend Islanders practices in person, so it had become a sort of second nature.

What was the most jarring thing on Monday was the quiet of the arena. Those of us covering games aren’t allowed into the Coliseum until an hour before game time, which would mean during normal times that the concourse would be bustling with fans and vendors selling overpriced beer and pretzels.

You would move at a snail’s pace trying to walk from the media gate to the press box elevators. Instead, it was a brisk walk onto the concourse and into the inner bowl where they have us set up to watch the games from. If there is any silver lining, then it’s the fact that we’re down a bit lower than where the Coliseum press box is, but I still enjoy watching from above to see how plays develop and get a different angle on the game.

The Islanders tried to keep the game presentation the same as they would if the building had been packed with fans. They blasted the music during warmups and during a stoppage of play — albeit at noticeably lower decibel than previously — pump-up videos were on the video board and goals and penalties were announced by the public address announcer.

Cardboard fans

And they pumped in crowd noise, which wasn’t all that bad and helped keep some figment of a normal game experience. When the Islanders faced the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, the volume of the crowd noise did not go over so well, but Monday on Long Island, it was done just right.

In fact, on Thursday during the Islanders 4-1 win over New Jersey, the fake crowd noise was almost nonexistent.

To that end, what was the oddest part of the whole experience so far was the emptiness of the Nassau Coliseum. Sure, people have their jokes about how empty the building has been in years past when the team wasn’t doing well, but at its best, the Coliseum is one of the toughest places to play in the NHL

In large part due to the fans that inhabit it. Adjusting to the calm and quiet, except for the music and fake noise, was something that took time.

Through all of the oddities, it was good to be back in an NHL rink.

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New York Islanders

Barzal Dazzles, Drives Isles in Win Over New Jersey | NYHN+

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Mathew Barzal

If there were any concerns about Mathew Barzal’s game because of his late arrival to training camp, the 23-year-old has quickly dispelled them with his dominant play on Thursday night.

It was Barzal’s three points (1g, 2a) along with linemate Jordan Eberle’s two goals that pushed the Islanders to a 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils at Nassau Coliseum.

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