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Playoff Gameday: Islanders Game 2 Lines and Notes vs. Capitals

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New York Islanders vs. Washington Capitals Game 2

(Editors Note: This story has been updated to reflect the comments made by Barry Trotz and Andy Greene following the New York Islanders morning skate.)

Will there be any retribution for New York Islanders forward Anders Lee’s hit on Nicklas Backstrom? We’ll soon find out.

When it comes to any changes to the New York Islanders lineup for Game 2, the answer is a little more clear. The Islanders will ice the same lineup as they did in Game 1 against the Washington Capitals.

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Islanders head coach Barry Trotz revealed the news today following the team’s morning skate.

“I think we’re pretty well status quo right now. We’ll probably stick with the same lineup,” Trotz told reporters over Zoom.

Considering the physicality of Game 1, the thought was that Ross Johnston might get into the lineup for Game 2. It also means that Johnny Boychuk will watch another game from the stands.

Boychuk has not played since Game 1 of the Islanders Qualifying Round series with the Florida Panthers. Boychuk took a high hit in the first period from Mike Matheson. Trotz told reporters prior to Game 1 against the Caps that Boychuk was “highly probable” to be ready.

So it seems it has come down to Andy Greene just being too good to take out of the lineup. Boychuk has been taking the situation in stride, according to Trotz.

“He is a team-first guy,” Trotz said about Boychuk. “He is a 100 percent pro and he knows where we are. All he wants to see is the Islanders win. He knows where he stands with us and with the coaching, and with his teammates. It’s not an issue an all.”

Greene has taken the chance given to him by the injury to Boychuk and ran with it. He’s played well with Nick Leddy and was a plus-1 in Wednesday’s 4-2 win.

He saw 15:47 of ice time as well against the Capitals.

“You never hope someone goes down and gets injured, but at this time of the year you have to be ready for anything,” Greene said. “You never know what’s going to happen. … you really had to dial it in at training camp and be ready. Just give it your all and see what happens.”

New York 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

Defense

Adam Pelech — Ryan Pulock

Devon Toews — Scott Mayfield

Nick Leddy — Andy Greene

Goalies

Semyon Varlamov

Thomas Greiss

Washington Capitals

It will be a tradeoff for the Capitals tonight. Lars Eller returns to the lineup, but they will be without Nicklas Backstrom.

Eller is returning the lineup after having to quarantine following his return to the Toronto bubble. He left to be with his wife for the birth of their child.

Backstrom is sidelined as he goes through concussion protocol following the Game 1 hit he took from Lee. Capitals coach Todd Reirden revealed the news during a Zoom call with reporters on Thursday.

“Nick is obviously a tremendous leader for us. His body of work as a player speaks for itself,” Reirden said. “But it’s next man up. Who is going to take advantage of that opportunity? That’s playoff hockey. That’s winning hockey during the regular season, is having guys in depth positions that can take advantage of it. Sometimes you have players that roles are elevated within the game.

“That’s what we’re challenged with and we’ll be ready for that tomorrow.”

Eller has done a good job of stepping up for the Capitals when some of the team’s top-six forwards are out. He has recorded 17 points (two goals, 15 assists) in 26 games that Backstrom or Evgeny Kuznetsov have missed over the last four years.

“I love when those challenges happen,” Eller said on Thursday. “I don’t change the way I think about the game or the way I prepare myself.”

Bad Blood Between Islanders and Capitals is No Surprise

Game Notes

The New York Islanders overcame a multi-point deficit in the postseason for the sixth time in the last 30 years. Three of those six times have been against the Washington Capitals. … The Islanders have allowed fewer than 30 shots in seven straight playoff games, according to statistician Eric Hornick. It’s the first time they’ve done so since an eight-game stretch in 1984. … Anthony Beauvillier is on a five-game point streak (four goals, two assists). Beauvillier is also the Islanders leading postseason goal scorer. … T.J. Oshie’s two power-play goals on Wednesday makes him one of seven players still in postseason contention to have two goals come on the man-advantage. The two goals moved Oshie up to sixth all-time on the Capitals in postseason goals scored. … Evgeny Kuznetsov is one goal shy of passing Dale Hunter for fourth-most playoff goals scored in Capitals franchise history. He is two points shy of passing Mike Ridley for fifth-most playoff points in franchise history.

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, 88.7 FM WRHU and 103.9 FM LI News Radio.

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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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