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New York Islanders

Lomoriello and Trotz Decisions Looming on Walhstrom, Bellows



New York Islanders roster players practice

Oliver Wahlstrom and Kieffer Bellows will be available to play when the New York Islanders open the season on Thursday, but will they be in the lineup remains a question.

Wahlstrom was listed on the Islanders’ main roster on Wednesday afternoon when the team released its opening night roster, while Bellows was listed among the taxi squad members. However, when Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello met with reporters later he indicated that they were still sorting out where they would be.

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“I don’t think that either one of them has been any final decision,” Lamoriello said. “I think we’ll find that out tomorrow as far ass what decision the coach will make. We have all players available as you know. Players on the taxi and players on the roster that you received today are eligible to travel with us and eligible to play.

“There are different reasons in practice that different people are used at different times.”

Bellows had been skating on a line with Ross Johnston and Jean-Gabriel Pageau on Wednesday morning during practice. Earlier in the same practice, a few players rotated playing on that line, including Wahlstrom.

It was being speculated though that Johnston and Bellows would be the two to open up the year on the wing of Pageau.

“The good thing about it is we’ve got some choices,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said. “We’ve put ourselves in a place to be flexible with those choices. I’m really happy with some of the young guys and the strides they’ve made. We’re going to see some of our young guys are going to be in the lineups in the future here, if not tomorrow night.”

The Islanders head coach said that both players will get in the lineup during the course of the 56 game season. Bellows and Wahlstrom have a similar skill set, according to Trotz.

He acknowledged their goal-scoring ability and their knack for creating offensive opportunities. There was a difference in one aspect of how they play.

“Kieffer’s game is a little bit small area game,” Trotz said. “Where Wahlly’s is I’ll say a big area game. Wahlly has a release that is an elite release. The other parts of his game continue to get better.”

Outside of the third line, the roster confirmed the rest of the lines will look identical to what they had been during the playoffs last summer.  Mathew Barzal will center Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle, while Anthony Beauvillier, Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey remain a unit.

After an injury scare on Sunday, Cizikas appeared to be OK and will center the energy line with Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin.

“I think the way our roster is comprised and set up, and staying certainly within the rules, is the best we could ask for,” Lamoriello said. “Though there were players on waivers are going to be very valuable, but we also knew that they would clear because of their salary and also the restrictions on other teams as far as their salary caps. I think it went as planned and now we have the flexibility to use each player depending upon the teams we play and the set of circumstances.”

Islanders Opening Night Roster


Josh Bailey
Mathew Barzal
Anthony Beauvillier
Casey Cizikas
Cal Clutterbuck
Michael Dal Colle (IR)
Jordan Eberle
Ross Johnston
Leo Komarov
Anders Lee
Matt Martin
Brock Nelson
Jean-Gabriel Pageau
Oliver Wahlstrom


Sebastian Aho
Noah Dobson
Andy Greene
Thomas Hickey
Nick Leddy
Scott Mayfield
Adam Pelech
Ryan Pulock


Ilya Sorokin
Semyon Varlamov


Kieffer Bellows
Austin Czarnik
Otto Koivula
Jakub Skarek

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New York Islanders

Coach Boychuk? Former Defenseman Helps Coaches During Islanders Practice



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



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+



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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