Today marks the final day of the Islanders' 6-game, 10-day road swing. The Islanders are 4-1-0 through the first five games and have won eight of their last nine on the road. Tonight’s finale in Philly may be the most important contest of the jaunt, as the Islanders play a Metropolitan division opponent for the first time since Jan. 4.
Here is a brief timeline of the Islanders gameday in Philadelphia.
9:15 a.m., on a Saturday, Philadelphia, PA – Bus leaves for morning skate at University of Pennsylvania's Class of 1923 Arena.
The Class of 1923 Arena was actually opened in 1972, the same year as Nassau Coliseum.
9:30 a.m. – The Islanders had to wait for the ice when they arrived, as a local youth hockey game was in progress. The kids caught sight of the professionals walking around the arena, but the pros took a few minutes to scout out the kids.
Calvin de Haan, Andrew MacDonald and Casey Cizikas take in a youth hockey game before morning skate.
10:10 a.m. – Islanders take the ice for morning skate. The youth players stuck around to watch the skate.
Some local youth hockey players in Philadelphia take in the Islanders morning skate.
10:30 a.m. – Head coach Jack Capuano speaks with the media, reveals lineup changes for tonight’s game. Eric Boulton and Matt Carkner are in for Peter Regin and Radek Martinek.
Capuano on the UPenn Arena: It’s a great barn. You like to come out and practice in places like these. It brings you back a little to the Al Arbour days, practicing at their practice rink. It’s good to get the boys out after a day off. It’s nice and cold in here. It’s crisp. It’ll wake them up a little bit here.
10:50 a.m. – Selected players are made available to the media. The team goes over to meet the local kids.
John Tavares signs autographs after the Islanders morning skate.
11:15 a.m. – Bus heads back to Islanders hotel.
12:15 p.m. – Players pre-game meal at hotel.
3:45 p.m. – First bus heads to Wells Fargo Center.
4:30 p.m. – Second bus heads to Wells Fargo Center.
5:45 p.m. – Shot of the ice inside Wells Fargo Center.
Post Game: The Islanders will bus back to Long Island following tonight's game in Philadelphia.
The Islanders are coming in hot, having won eight-of-10, and four-of-five on their current road trip. They look to beat the Flyers for the first time this season and make up some ground on their Metropolitan-division rival.
With the Wells Fargo Center hosting a lacrosse game, the site of today’s morning skate was University of Pennsylvania's Class of 1923 Arena. The barn, which we originally guessed had opened in 1923, actually opened in 1972, the same year as Nassau Coliseum.
It was cold, but the rink had a ton of character and today’s skate definitely had a throwback feel to it.
Ahead of tonight’s game, here are some news, notes and quotes from today’s skate.
Capuano: Poulin in goal. Boulton is in for Regin at forward. Carkner is in for Martinek at defense. #Isles— NYIslanders (@NYIslanders) January 18, 2014
Poulin Starts: Head coach Jack Capuano is sticking with his hot goaltender, as Poulin gets his sixth start in a row. The 23-year-old has won six of his last seven contests and allowed two goals or fewer in four of them.
Boulton In: Eric Boulton draws back into the lineup tonight in place of Peter Regin. The Islanders enforcer scored one of his two goals this season at Wells Fargo Center.
From the Coach: You’re at the end of the trip. You’re going home, it’s the last game. This game and the first one back at home are usually the toughest for a team. Mentally you have to be focused and ready for that challenge. This is a crucial stretch for our hockey team obviously with the points and the divisional play. We have to be ready to play against a really good team.
Flyers: After a bumpy 1-7 start to the season, the Flyers have roared back with a 23-12-5 in their last 40 games to claim second place in the Metropolitan Division. The Flyers had been dynamite at home, winning 10 straight at Wells Fargo Center, until a pair of losses in their last two home games. Overall, the Flyers are 1-2-1 in their last four. As good as they’ve been this season, the Islanders enter the game as the hotter team.
Team Leaders: Claude Giroux (13-29-42) and Wayne Simmonds (16-19-35) lead the Flyers in points. Mark Streit leads all Flyers defensemen with 21 points (6-15-21) in 48 games. Vincent Lecavalier (3-1-4) and Giroux (1-3-4) each have four points in two games vs. the Isles this season.
Capuano on the Flyers: This is a good team, they have four lines, they are deep on defense and they have solid goaltending. They have D that activate and they are playing good hockey right now. We’ve had some ups and downs in this building against this hockey club.
The Islanders wrap up one of the most successful road runs in team history Saturday, as they close out their six-game trip in Philadelphia. The Islanders tied a club record with 16 points in nine road games and, having already won four-of-five games on their current trip, are setting the pace in the suddenly-hot Metropolitan Division.
As positive as the trip has been, Saturday’s tilt in Philadelphia is the most important game of the road swing, as the Islanders face the second-place team in the Metro standings.
A win, or pair of wins, in the home-and-home set, which concludes Monday at 1 p.m., closes the gap dramatically. After the Flyers games, the Metro teams keep coming; the Islanders head back to Madison Square Garden for a date with the Rangers and then host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night.
Playing outside the division has been a breeze for the Islanders, who are 9-1-0 in their last 10 against non-Metro teams. It’s been a different tale inside the division, but the Islanders have been a different team over the past few weeks since beating the Rangers on Dec. 20.
The Islanders are getting big contributions from first-year players Kevin Poulin, Calvin de Haan and Brock Nelson. Poulin has won six-of-seven appearances, de Haan had a career-best five-game point streak until last night and Nelson has scored timely goals during this run, including a game-tying goal Jan. 10 against Colorado.
The top line has been among the best in the league, as the trio of John Tavares, Thomas Vanek and Kyle Okposo have combined for 35 points over the past nine road games. Tavares (4g/8a) and Okposo (7g/5a) each have 12 points while Vanek has 11 (3g/8a) in that span.
Unlike the last time the Islanders landed in Philly, the Isles are one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference, having won eight-of-10, as well as eight-of-nine on the road. It’s been a fun ride for the Islanders, but it’s time to bring that free-wheeling road attitude back to the gridlock of the Metropolitan.
The Islanders left Tampa Bay today at 2 p.m. and landed in Philadelphia around 4 p.m. The team did not practice today and has scheduled a morning skate for Saturday morning in Philly.
10:00 a.m. – Islanders bus over to Tampa Bay Times Forum for morning skate. The rink is roughly a 10-minute walk from the team's hotel, and with the weather 60 degrees outside, some players elect to stroll over.
10:30 a.m. – Tampa Bay Lightning take the ice for morning skate. Steven Stamkos participates in his first morning skate since breaking his leg on Nov. 11.
Steven Stamkos at the Lightning morning skate.
11:00 a.m. – Lightning coach Jon Cooper addresses the media.
11:30 a.m. – Islanders take the ice for morning skate.
Josh Bailey looks on at the Isles morning skate.
11:40 a.m. – Islanders head coach Jack Capuano addresses the media. Capuano named Poulin his starting goaltender and announced that Peter Regin and Radek Martinek were in the lineup.
12:00 p.m. – Islanders open up locker room for media availability.
Michael Grabner sits down for an interview.
12:35 p.m. – Islanders bus back to their hotel.
12:55 p.m. – Islanders take Radek Martinek off the team’s injured reserve list.
The Tampa Bay Times Forum sits on the Tampa waterfront, opposite of Harbour Island. The building opened in 1996, but has been refurbished multiple times. Here are a few pictures of interior and exterior of the building.
A panoramic view of the Tampa waterfront.
A statue of Phil Esposito stands outside the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The Hockey
Hall of Famer helped bring an expansion franchise to Tampa in 1992.
A panoramic view of the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
A view of Tampa from inside the Forum.
Speaking of touring Tampa, Long Island native Billy Joel will play at the Forum Friday night.
Tonight also marks the Islanders first chance to avenge a 3-2 shootout loss to the Lightning on Dec. 17, a game the Islanders held a late lead. The Lightning are 14-5-2 record at home this season, but have lost three straight at the Forum, which means it may be a prime time to stopover in Tampa.
Ahead of tonight’s game, both teams held morning skate. Here are some news, notes and quotes from the morning action in Tampa.
Matt Martin takes the ice as the Islanders begin their morning skate.
Capuano: Poulin in goal. Regin back into the lineup at forward. Martinek in for Carkner at defense. #Isles— NYIslanders (@NYIslanders) January 16, 2014
Regin In: Peter Regin is back in the lineup tonight and will skate on the second line with Frans Nielsen and Josh Bailey. Regin, a natural center, will skate on the wing.
Regin on playing wing: I have to concentrate on staying on the wall because it's natural to go to the middle... I think [me and Frans Nielsen] have pretty good chemistry. If I go into the middle, he'll read off me and go to the wall.
Peter Regin skates by linemate Josh Bailey at the morning skate.
Hamonic Out: Travis Hamonic will miss his second consecutive game with an upper-body injury.
Martinek In: Radek Martinek draws into the lineup tonight and will be paired with Thomas Hickey. Matt Carkner is out of the lineup tonight. The Islanders removed Martinek from their injured reserve list this afternoon.
Poulin: Kevin Poulin makes his fifth straight start and sixth consecutive appearance for the Islanders. Poulin had his career-high, five-game winning streak snapped in Sunrise, but is playing some inspired hockey and gets the nod from coach Capuano.
Kevin Poulin takes a shot from Brock Nelson at the Islanders' morning skate.
Faster Start: The Islanders have given up the first goal in every game on their current road trip and are looking for a faster start against the Lightning:
Martin on tonight's game: We're still really confident in here. I don' t think we thought we were going to go the rest of the season without losing a game... The important thing here is to rebound tonight. It's important that we don't lose two, three, or four in a row. We have to end these things early... We have to come out right off the bat and be ready to play.
Tavares vs. Hedman: Tonight the number one and number two picks in the 2009 draft face off against each other.
Top Line: John Tavares has 17 points (8g/9a) in nine games since returning from a lower-body injury… Thomas Vanek has 18 points (6g/12a) in his last 13 games… Kyle Okposo has 20 points (11g/9a) in his last 16 games.
John Tavares waits for a one-timer at the end of the morning skate.
De Haan: Calvin de Haan is riding five-game point streak (1g/6a).
League Leaders: Andrew MacDonald leads the NHL in blocked shots (163) while Matt Martin leads the NHL in hits (234).
From the Coach: Click here to listen to Jack Capuano's morning press conference.
The Lightning take the ice at their morning skate.
Bishop: Ben Bishop has been a stud this season for Tampa Bay and is posting some of the league’s best goalie numbers. Bishop is 23-5-3 with a 1.83 GAA and a league-leading .937 SV%. The Lightning have been good all season, but are better with their 6’6 netminder, as they have gone 9-0-2 in his last 11 starts. The Islanders have a tough task ahead of them tonight, as Bishop hasn’t allowed more than two goals in 15 of his last 16 outings.
Stamkos Skates: Steven Stamkos was on the ice for the Lightning’s morning skate, his first morning skate since breaking his leg on Nov. 11. Head coach Jon Cooper was pleased to see the progress for his superstar, but there is still no official timetable for his return.
Steven Stamkos participates in his first morning skate since suffering a broken leg on Nov. 11.
Hedman: Victor Hedman will skate in his 300th NHL game tonight. The second-overall pick in the 2009 draft has 10 goals on the season and has 16 assists.
St. Louis: Lightning captain Martin St. Louis is riding a five-game point streak (3/g/3a).
A panoramic view of the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Here are some news, notes and quotes from today’s practice:
Strome Loaned to Bridgeport: The Islanders loaned Ryan Strome to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers this morning.
Capuano on Strome: The first thing he probably realizes, and we talked about it, is that he wanted to create more from an offensive standpoint. The defensemen are bigger and stronger [in the NHL], the forwards track a lot harder and you don't have that time and space, but the fact that he recognizes those things shows his attention to detail and the willingness to get better. That's what I really like about Ryan and he knows he has to get stronger to play better down low and away from the puck. It's not a demotion, it's a process and it's good for his development to continue to play as we move forward.
We put him in a top-nine role. We put him on the power play a little bit. It's not like we didn't give him some offensive opportunities. He got some minutes. Late in tight games, I cut his minutes a little bit and put Casey on that line because of the inexperience and the strength and [Strome] was great. He watched the video and asked a lot of questions. I think he has a bright future. He's an offensively-gifted player, and to hear him say he wanted to create more; he understands how he has to create more. That's being heavier on sticks, getting into those battle levels and defending a little harder because as a centerman, good defense is going to lead to offense. I think his opportunity, as we move forward, he'll have a bigger role on our hockey club.
Martinek Skates: Radek Martinek skated with the Islanders at today’s practice. Capuano said he will be ready to go if called upon. Martinek was placed on IR on Dec. 12 retroactive to Nov. 29 (back spasms).
Radek Martinek skates during practice at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Nabby Skates: Evgeni Nabokov was on the ice for the second day in a row to work with goalie coach Mike Dunham. Capuano said Nabokov’s status was still day-to-day.
Power Play: The Islanders used Wednesday's ice time as an opportunitiy to practice their power play.
The Islanders top power-play unit practices at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Kevin Poulin takes shots before Wednesday's practice. Poulin was the first Islander on the ice.
Michael Grabner skates to the corner after a drill on Wednesday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
The Islanders switch sides after a drill on Wednesday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
10:00 a.m. – Islanders board the bus bound for BB&T Center for morning skate.
A group of Islanders soak up the warm weather before morning skate.
10:30 a.m. – Florida Panthers take morning skate at BB&T Center.
Familiar Faces: Former Islander Brad Boyes chated with Islanders players and coaches before the Panthers morning skate. Boyes has 12 goals and nine assists for the Panthers this season. Last season skating on the Isles’ top line he tallied 10 goals and 25 assists.
Former Islander Brad Boyes takes the ice at Panthers morning skate.
11:15 a.m. – Panthers open locker room for media availability. Islanders media catches up with Boyes, as well as former Islander Sean Bergenheim. The Islanders selected Bergenheim 22nd overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. The NHL and the Panthers announced today that BB&T Center will host the 2015 NHL Draft.
Butch Goring talks to former-Islander Sean Bergenheim.
11:30 a.m – Islanders take the ice for morning skate. Click here for in-depth morning skate updates.
A panoramic view of the BB&T Center.
12:00 p.m. – Islanders head coach Jack Capuano addresses the media. He annouces Travis Hamonic will miss tonight's game with an upper-body injury and that Matt Carkner will draw into the lineup. Capuano also says Poulin in goal while the Islanders will ice the same lineup at forward.
12:15 p.m. – Islanders locker room opens for media availability.
Cal Clutterbuck talks to Butch Goring. Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas look on.
12:40 p.m. – First Islanders bus heads back to the hotel.
4:15 p.m. – First Islanders bus heads to BB&T Center.
5:00 p.m. – Second Islanders bus heads to BB&T Center
A quick walk around the BB&T concourse leads fans to the Den of Honor, an area dedicated to the history of the Florida Panthers. Fans will see authentic player jerseys, sticks, equipment and memorabilia, as well as newspaper clippings from the Panthers expansion season, 1996 Stanley Cup Final appearance and of course, the rat.
Islanders fans in the area may be interested in the Bill Torrey section of the Den of Honor, as the Panthers pay homage to "The Architect." Torrey was the Islanders general manager from 1972-1992, building the Islanders dynasty teams. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995. After his tenure on Long Island, Torrey became the Florida Panthers' first president in 1993. He served the role until his retirement in 2001.
A plaque dedicated to Bill Torrey, much like the one the Islanders dedicated to him at Nassau Coliseum.
A custom Bill Torrey jersey on display in the Panthers Den of Honor.
And up in the press box, two other Islanders Hall of Famers have their names on the wall, commemorating their service to the Panthers.
Islanders captain and Hockey Hall-of-Famer Denis Potvin, the Panthers' color analyst from 1993/94 to 2008/09.
Islanders Hall-of-Fame broadcaster Jiggs McDonald, the Panthers radio play-by-play voice from 1999/2000 to 2003/04.
Ahead of tonight’s game against the Florida Panthers, the Islanders took the ice at BB&T Center for their morning skate. Here are some news, notes and quotes from today’s skate.
Road Streak: The Islanders have won seven straight games on the road and an eighth straight road win would tie a club record, set in 1981. The seven game streak is currently the second longest in franchise history.
Other Winning Streak: The Islanders have won four straight games, their longest streak of the season.
Capuano: Poulin in goal. Same forward lines as the win in Dallas. At defense, Carkner in for Hamonic (day-to-day, upper-body). #Isles— NYIslanders (@NYIslanders) January 14, 2014
Hamonic Out: Travis Hamonic will miss tonight’s game with an upper-body injury. Matt Carkner draws into the lineup, but head coach Jack Capuano said he will shuffle his defensive pairs. The injury ends Hamonic’s ironman streak at 117 games. Hamonic did not play in the third period of the Islanders 4-2 win at Dallas on Sunday night.
Capuano on Hamonic: When you lose a guy that’s playing 25 minutes, it’s a huge loss for our hockey team and we are going to have to make some adjustments as the game goes on, there’s no question.
Top Line: All three members of the Islanders top line recorded two points in Sunday's 4-2 win.
Thomas Vanek skates at the Isles morning skate.
Vanek: Click here to listen to Thomas Vanek's thoughts on the road trip.
DO call it a comeback: The Islanders have trailed at some point in each of their last five road victories. Head coach Jack Capuano said he wants a stronger start from his team tonight, but nobody is panicking on the bench if the Isles are down.
Poulin: Kevin Poulin has won five straight games. Tonight he makes his fifth-straight start since taking over the starting job from an injured Evgeni Nabokov.
Kevin Poulin makes a save during morning drills.
De Haan: Calvin de Haan is riding a four-game point streak (1-5-6). The rookie defenseman assisted on both the tying and winning goals Sunday night.
Tavares: John Tavares was named the NHL’s first star of the week yesterday, for the week ending on Jan. 12. Tavares had 10 points (4g/6a) in four games last week while the Islanders went 4-0-0. The Islanders captain scored the game-winning goal Sunday and is tied for second in league scoring with 56 points (21g/35a).
From the Coach: There’s been some good, there’s been some bad. We need to start on time… The impressive thing is that we’ve battled back and shown resiliency and we are working hard and playing within the team concept.
Brian Strait sends a pass across the ice at the Islanders morning skate.
Lurking Panthers: The Panthers are trying to claw their way back into the Atlantic Division/Eastern Conference playoff picture. The Islanders and Panthers are separated by two points in the standings meaning this game is huge for both teams. The Isles recently leapfrogged the Panthers in the standings and if they want to continue their upward trend, they can’t get stuck in the Florida swamp.
Barkov: The Islanders will get their first live look at Aleksander Barkov, the second-overall pick in the 2013 draft. Barkov leads the Panthers with 22 points (7g/15a) in 45 games and has points in 10 of his last 14 games. The big-bodied Barkov (6’3”, 209 lbs.) was named to the Finnish Olympic team for the upcoming Winter Games.
Barkov skates at the Panthers morning skate in Florida.
Thomas: Tim Thomas will start tonight for the Panthers and is the X-factor on the Panthers. His extensive resume includes: a Stanley Cup, a Conn Smythe trophy and two Vezina trophies as the league’s top goaltender. The athletic goaltender almost tends to give out rebounds, but always seems to find his way to get in front of second and third opportunities. Thomas is 11-11-3 with a .916 save percentage in his first season in Florida.
Thomas was the first goalie off the ice Tuesday and will likely start tonight.
From their Coach, Peter Horachek: The Islanders are a team that transitions well. I think they are going to be a tough match.
After defeating the Stars for their seventh straight road, the Islanders flew across the Gulf of Mexico to Sunrise, Florida for the first of two games in the Sunshine State.
The team landed at approximately 12:30 a.m. eastern time and got to the hotel around 1 a.m.
Not a whole lot to report today, as head coach Jack Capuano gave his squad the day off to enjoy the sunshine and 80-degree weather. The big news was John Tavares being named the NHL’s first star of the week.
The team will be back on the ice tomorrow for a morning skate before their date with the Panthers.
A Tavares surge in January is about as reliable as a crowded gym after New Year’s. The Islanders captain already has 12 points (5g/7a) in six games this month, averaging two points-per-game. Of course, two points are merely an average, as Tavares put up a five-spot (3g/2a) against the Dallas Stars on Jan. 6 and followed it up with three assists the next night against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Stars got a second helping of Tavares-in-January last night, as the league’s second-leading scorer had two points, including the game-winning goal. So far, the Islanders are 5-1-0 this month.
Tavares has already outdone himself compared to last year, when he scored 11 points (4g/7a) in seven January games. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a full January last season, so what Tavares could have done remains a mystery, but he still helped the team to a 4-2-1 record.
Of course, all his January production is going to be compared to the 2011-12 season, the true benchmark of his January potential. The then third-year player scored 22 points (9g/13a) in 13 January games, taking home the NHL’s first star of the month award. Among Tavares’ exploits were six multi-point games, four game-winning goals and a 10-game point streak (6g/11a)*.
The Islanders played the Carolina Hurricanes three times in January 2012 and Tavares had nine points (4g/5a). Overall, the Islanders went 7-5-1.
There are still 10 games on the Islanders January schedule this season, so Tavares needs just over a point-per-game to set a new high-water mark. If he keeps it up, the NHL will have to start calling it Johnuary.
*The 2012 point streak actually lasted 12 games, as it started on Dec. 29 with a goal and an assist against Calgary.