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New York Islanders

Remembering the Day Hockey Returned to Nassau Coliseum

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First game back at Nassau Coliseum

On the night of Dec. 1, 2018, it had been over three years since the New York Islanders last played a meaningful hockey game at the Nassau Coliseum. In a matter of hours, that would change and the Islanders would make their triumphant return to their longtime home with a 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

It was two years ago that the Islanders returned to the Nassau Coliseum after departing for the Barclays Center in Brooklyn following the 2014-15 season. The Islanders stay at Barclays Center could be described as rocky at best and they soon found their way back to Long Island after a couple of seasons.

In December of 2017, the Islanders officially won the rights to develop a new arena at Belmont Park and in January of 2018 New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the Islanders would return to Long Island early by splitting their time between the Barclays Center and the renovated Nassau Coliseum. Thus bringing us back to Dec 1, 2018, and the team’s long-awaited return to the Coliseum.

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To say that the night lived up to the hype would be putting it mildly.

Islanders fans arrived hours in advance to tailgate in the Nassau Coliseum parking lot and the area around the Islanders net was rows deep with fans watching warmups. The December night had the feeling of a playoff hockey game.

“Driving home from practice this morning and seeing people in the parking lot at 11:30 in the morning and then stepping onto the ice for warmups was a different atmosphere,” Casey Cizikas said at the time. “That was crazy and that was something we built off of. When (the Blue Jackets) started to have a push the crowd got into and got the moment pushed back to our way. We fed off that.”

Coincidentally, Columbus had been the last opponent the Islanders had played in the regular season at the Nassau Coliseum. They were there again on that fateful Saturday to re-open the building to NHL hockey.

Columbus had jumped to an early lead, but the Islanders rallied that night off goals from Anders Lee, Anthony Beauvillier and Casey Cizikas. It was Cizikas’ goal at 7:09  of the third period that served as the go-ahead goal and eventual game-winner.

“I had a lot of emotions running through my body,” Cizikas said that night. “I think I was more tired from screaming from the celebration than from the actual shift. (Ryan Pulock) made a hell of a play. He drew the two guys going wide and he made a perfect pass to me.”

The night was the first of 21 dates that the Islanders would play that year at the Coliseum. They would play another two nights there during the playoffs.

The Islanders returned the next season for even more home dates on Long Island and earlier this year Gov. Cuomo announced that they would play their final season before UBS Arena opens in 2021 entirely at Nassau Coliseum. With the 2020-21 NHL season still up in the air, it’s unclear if the Islanders will get a chance to say one final good bye to the Coliseum with their fans in the building.

But on Dec 1, 2018, the hockey world was reminded why the Nassau Coliseum is such a unique place to play.

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New York Islanders

RUNNING WITH THE DEVILS: Islanders Lineup, Matchups and Game Notes vs. New Jersey

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New York Islanders lineup

The New York Islanders will look to complete the sweep of the New Jersey Devils this evening as they wrap up a two-game set with the Devils tonight at Prudential Center.

The Islanders handily dispatched New Jersey on Thursday night with a 4-1 win at Nassau Coliseum. The two meetings are the first of eight that will occur between divisional rivals this season.

Head coach Barry Trotz was keeping his cards close to the vest this afternoon, but the Islanders lineup is expected to be the same as it was on Thursday. Where the head coach hinted things could change was during the upcoming week as the Islanders begin a five-game road trip.

“I’m trying to get a little rhythm with the group that we have,” Trotz said. “At some point, either injury will hit or we’ll make sort of subtle changes and try to keep everyone involved. The taxi squad, they sometimes feel like outliers. We’re monitoring them and evaluating them every day. Making it a little bit of a competition. We have a busy week and I’m sure you’ll see different lineups as we go along during the week.”

New Jersey will try to contain the Islanders offense, which scored a season-high four goals on backup Scott Wedgewood. He was in net on Thursday with MacKenzie Blackwood on the COVID protocol list.

Wedgewood is expected to start again on Sunday night with Blackwood still on the COVID protocol list.

The one player the Devils will be focused on stopping will be Mathew Barzal, who helped lead the Islanders’ offense during the first matchup. The Islanders star had a three-point night against New Jersey on Thursday.

“We have to be a lot more aware of when he comes on the ice; the angles we take on him,” Lindy Ruff said, according to Mike Morreale. “There were a couple angles we took that just allowed him to go right thru us. He’s got the capability, once he’s wound up, to probably beat any defenseman in this League.”

New York Islanders Lineup (Projected)

Anders Lee — Mathew Barzal — Jordan Eberle

Anthony Beauvillier — Brock Nelson — Josh Bailey

Ross Johnston — Jean-Gabriel Pageau — Oliver Wahlstrom

Matt Martin — Casey Cizikas — Cal Clutterbuck

Adam Pelech — Ryan Pulock

Nick Leddy — Scott Mayfield

Andy Greene — Noah Dobson

Semyon Varlamov

Ilya Sorokin

New Jersey Devils Lineup (Projected)

Yegor Sharangovich — Jack Hughes — Kyle Palmieri

Miles Wood — Travis Zajac — Janne Kuokkanen

Nicholas Merkley — Pavel Zacha — Nikita Gusev

Andreas Johnsson — Michael McLeod — Nathan Bastian

Ryan Murray — P.K. Subban

Dmitry Kulikov — Damon Severson

Ty Smith — Matt Tennyson

Scott Wedgewood

Eric Comrie

Game Notes

The Islanders have allowed the fewest goals in their first four games since the 1981-82 season, giving up just five so far. … The Islanders have been strong in the faceoff circle early this season. They are ranked second in the league with a 57.2 faceoff percentage. … Among the team’s best faceoff men has been Brock Nelson, who has is 30-for-50 in faceoffs this season. … New Jersey has a five-game point streak against the Islanders at home. They are 2-0-3 in that span against New York. … Nico Hischier (2-1-3) and Kyle Palmieri (1-2-3) led New Jersey in points against the Islanders last season. … The last three games between New York and New Jersey at Prudential have to overtime.

How to Watch

Today’s game will air locally on MSG+2 or it is streamable on MSG Go or on NHL.tv outside of the New York market. On the radio dial, the game can be heard on AM 970, 88.7 FM WRHU and 103.9 FM LI News Radio.

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New York Islanders

Young blood: Noah Dobson making strides at blue line for Islanders

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Noah Dobson

When the New York Islanders traded defenseman Devon Toews in the lead-up to the season, it almost inevitably gave Noah Dobson a more prominent role on the teams defensive corps.

When Johnny Boychuk announced his career was over, it thrust Dobson into an important role.

So far, the 21-year-old has held his own and has been a key contributor to the defense.

In four games, Dobson’s recorded three assists — half his point total from 34 regular-season games last year. More than the point production, though, the Prince Edward Island native has seen a significant uptick in his ice time.

Coach Boychuk? Former Defenseman Helps Coaches During Islanders Practice

Already this year, he’s averaging over 18 minutes per game, which is five minutes more than he was during his rookie season. But he’s also been a key piece on the power play, generating two of his three points on the extra-man unit.

After Thursday’s win over the New Jersey Devils, head coach Barry Trotz said Dobson had put in extra work to have a more visible offensive side. Dobson had drawn rave reviews in the QMJHL for his stay-at-home defensive play, but has added a little more of an aggressive offensive dimension this year. That was especially noticeable on the power play against New Jersey when he came into the slot for a shot attempt that went wide but set up Jordan Eberle’s second goal of the game.

“He’s been putting extra time in and some work on the power play as well as 5-on-5,” Trotz said. “I just think that the more he plays, the more comfortable that he gets, the more confidence he gets the better it is for us and better it is for him. I thought he’s responded well from the Ranger game, hopefully, he continues to grow.”

In the aforementioned Rangers game, Noah Dobson took a penalty and was a minus-2 in what was a sloppy 5-0 loss for the Islanders. But after two points and a season-high 20:24 of ice time against New Jersey, Dobson quickly recovered.

Defensively, he’s blocked 12 shots and worked with veteran Andy Greene, though he pair has been toward the bottom for the Islanders in terms of possession. According to Natural Stat Trick, the two have a 35.90 Corsi For percentage in over 40 minutes of ice time at 5-on-5 together. Yes, it’s a small sample size, but that’s a number the Islanders would like to see rise significantly. Right now, it’s the worst pair on the team that’s played any significant minutes this year.

Noah Dobson Natural Stat Trick

Some of Noah Dobson’s stats from the 2020-21 season.

But the good news for Dobson, outside of playing with Greene, he has a CF percentage of 58.33 in a little over 13 minutes of ice time with other partners.

When the Islanders dealt Toews to the Colorado Avalanche, they lost a player who could move the puck and chip in significant time on the power play. While it might be unfair to slip Dobson right into the Toews-sized hole left on defense and power play, he can at least remain a decent contributor in facilitating offense and helping the man advantage.

And so far he has, recording over 2:30 minutes of power-play time in each of the four games this year. As the year goes on, Dobson expects to continue to grow and have that experience benefit him.

“I think confidence is a huge thing, I think the more games you play the more comfortable you feel,” Noah Dobson said Thursday. “Every game I’m getting more comfortable, more confident. I think there’s more opportunities to jump up into the play.”

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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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