Schott: Islanders Have Come A Long Way

(Jason Schott – New York Sports Day)

The New York Islanders are officially in Brooklyn, and they ushered in the Barclays Center era with a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday night.

The Islanders announced they were moving from Long Island to Brooklyn on October 24, 2012. This was about a week before the Nets opened their first season at Barclays Center.

In an instant, so Brooklyn went from not having a team for 55 years, from when the Dodgers left in 1957, to calling two professional teams their own.

The announcement of the move to Brooklyn changed the Islanders’ fortunes as well. They were in the process of building a nice roster while also knowing, eventually, they would get their long-awaited new arena.

The Islanders have made the playoffs two of the past three seasons. Last year was a season to remember as they won 47 games and had 101 points, while challenging the Rangers for the Atlantic division title. They are still in search of playoff glory, as they lost in the first round to the Washington Capitals in seven games.

This could be a big year, as they are ready to become one of the elite teams in the National Hockey League, boasting a very explosive roster.

They are led by John Tavares, who had a team-leading 86 points last season, with 38 goals and 48 assists; Kyle Okposo, who had 51 points; and Anders Lee, who had 25 goals last season. Their defense is also one of the best, with Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk, and Jaroslav Halak in net.

Tavares said on Monday night of the Islanders finally calling Brooklyn home, “The first few times we played here, it was hard to really, certainly understand how. you know, without the locker room and all that, we just bused in here for games and whatnot, so, but today, when you go through, coming in here in the morning, getting to see the new locker room and getting comfortable with everything, your surroundings and just kind of routine throughout the day, it’s definitely different. It’s great, it’s a beautiful facility, the locker room’s incredible, and the kind of stuff that we’re really looking forward to.”

The games Tavares was referencing were the preseason games the past two seasons against the Devils, in which they played in front of packed houses in Brooklyn.

Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano, entering his fifth full season at the helm, said of the Barclays Center ice, “I thought it was good, I thought they did a good job, even at the pregame skate this morning, it was good for us.”

Capuano said of the Islanders getting used to their new routines on game days, as they basically are spending all day in the arena, “Well, that’s why we’re playing the games here and everybody’s gonna go through the routine. It’s a little bit different, obviously, for support staff, for players, for coaches, but it’s something that we have to adjust to and, you know, it’s a great building, it’s a great setup for our guys, so I’m sure that we’ll figure it out.”

On Monday night, the Islanders’ first goal showed what kind of team they are. Cal Clutterbuck stole the puck at center ice with just under two minutes left in the first period. The Islanders took it deep into Flyers territory, and Samuel Morin took a penalty with 1:18 on the clock, giving the Islanders a power play.

The Islanders cashed in, as Josh Bailey, from the right corner boards, sent it to Lee, who found Tavares for the Islanders’ first goal in Brooklyn with 56 seconds left in the opening period.

Lee got a goal of his own on another Islanders power play 3:25 into the second period, and he was set up by Tavares and Marek Zidlicky.

In the third period, Islander newcomer Kirill Petrov scored, on a set up from Johnny Boychuk and Mikhail Grabovsky, with 6:51 left in the second period to make it 3-0.

The Islanders brought in Petrov, a 25-year-old left wing, from Kazan of the KHL in Russia.

Capuano said of Petrov, “I thought he did well. The thing for me with him tonight is he played the body and he played physical. When you’ve got that size, he utilized it. I thought the young guys played well tonight, him in particular.”

The Flyers got goals from Taylor Leier with 51 seconds left in the second period, and Brayden Schenn 1:33 into the third.

To add to the special nature of the night,the National Hockey League picked this game to test out 3-on-3 overtime regardless of the score at the end of regulation, in this case a 3-2 Islanders win.

This was interesting to watch, as there was a lot of open ice and plenty of breakaways. If people think the current 4-on-4 produces plenty of scoring chances, they ain’t seen nothing yet.

The Islanders have two more preseason games at Barclays Center, this Wednesday against the Devils, and next Monday against the Capitals in a playoff rematch. They open the regular season at Barclays Center on October 9th against the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

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