It’s hard to imagine that this is only Game 1 of the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but here we are.
The Islanders begin their Series with the Washington Capitals this afternoon at 3 p.m. It will be the first time that the Islanders face the Capitals in the postseason since 2015 and the first time Barry Trotz will go up against his former club in the playoffs.
There won’t be much change in the Islanders lineup when they hit the ice for Game 1. The Islanders are expected to keep much of their lineup intact from their previous series against the Florida Panthers. Johnny Boychuk is expected to be ready for the opening game against Washington and Ross Johnston is “in the mix” to crack the lineup.
Johnston can provide the Islanders with another big body that can play a physical game.
They will need that against a talented and tough Washington squad. The Capitals notably play a much more physical game than the Panthers did in the Qualifying Round. Trotz went as far as to compare Johnston to Tom Wilson, who the Islanders will see this round.
That’s without mentioning the fact the Islanders will need to slow down guys like Alex Ovechkin and the other plethora of offensive talent on the Caps roster.
“He’s a very dangerous offensive player,” said Semyon Varlamov, who will be tasked with stopping Ovechkin between the pipes. “He scores a lot of goals. We’re going to have to play very smart against him and then try to take care of him.”
— x-New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) August 11, 2020
Ovechkin isn’t the only one they’ll need to worry about. Nicklas Backstrom has 54 points (12 goals, 42 assists) during the regular season, Wilson has 21 goals on the year and John Carlson has 75 points (15 goals, 60 assists).
Not to mention the Capitals possess a dangerous power play that can drive even the best teams up a wall.
“They’re obviously a very solid squad. They were champions a couple of years ago,” Jordan Eberle said. “You look at their lineup they obviously have a lot of guys that can put the puck in the net. They’re a dynamic team. They’re big. We’ll definitely have our hands full in a lot of situations.”
— x-New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) August 12, 2020
Islanders Projected Lines
Anders Lee — Mathew Barzal — Jordan Eberle
Anthony Beauvillier — Brock Nelson — Josh Bailey
Derick Brassard — Jean-Gabriel Pageau — Leo Komarov
Matt Martin — Casey Cizikas — Cal Clutterbuck
Adam Pelech — Ryan Pulock
Devon Toews — Scott Mayfield
Nick Leddy — Johnny Boychuk
The Capitals will be without Lars Eller for Game 1. The Washinton forward left the bubble to be with his wife for the birth of their child. He has returned to the Toronto bubble, but he did not practice yesterday and Capitals coach Todd Reirden ruled him out for today’s game.
The Capitals coach also indicated that John Carlson will be a game-time decision for Game 1. Travis Boyd will remain in the Capitals lineup today.
Capitals Project Lines
Alex Ovechkin — Evgeny Kuznetsov — Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana — Nicklas Backstrom — T.J. Oshie
Carl Hagelin — Travis Boyd — Ilya Kovalchuk
Richard Panik — Nic Dowd — Garnet Hathaway
Michal Kempny — John Carlson
Brenden Dillon — Dmitry Orlov
Jonas Siegenthaler — Nick Jensen
Today’s game will be the eighth time that the Islanders and Capitals have met in the postseason. The Islanders hold a 21-16 edge against the Caps in the playoff games. Their last meeting was back in 2015 when Washington defeated New York in seven games in the First round. …. The Islanders split the season series with the Capitals 2-2 during the 2019-20 campaign. In their two games against Washington in the new year, they dropped a Jan. 18 meeting 6-4 at Nassau Coliseum and defeated them 5-3 on Feb. 10 on the road. … Casey Cizikas led the Islanders this season with three goals against the Caps, while Ovechkin was the Capitals leading scorer against the Islanders with three goals this year.
How to Watch
Locally the game will air on MSG+ and MSG GO, and nationally on NBCSN. For those outside the New York market, the game can also be streamed on NHL.TV. On the radio dial, the game will air on 98.7 FM ESPN New York, 1050 ESPN, 88.7 FM WRHU and 103.9 FM LI News Radio.