Who is the man behind the Islanders’ Belmont Arena Account?

3d rendered image of belmont park

Construction for the New York Islanders new arena at Belmont Park has resumed, and for one person in particular the resumption has a little more meaning.

That person is Jonathan Aigen.

You might be asking, who is Aigen? He works for a financial services firm in the city and does freelance work running the North Shore Animal League’s Twitter account. More importantly, he’s the brains behind the @NYIBelmontArena Twitter account, which is the team’s unofficial page showing all the progress on the arena since November of last year.

A kid from Port Washington, Aigen has been an Islanders fan since birth. He got his fandom from his father, who grew up on Long Island and was an original fan from when the franchise was born in 1972. In the glory years, Aigen’s grandfather and his firm had season tickets, so his dad was there to witness the dynasty.

He’s taken that fandom past down and turned it into one of the most popular accounts on Isles Twitter.

“Growing up an Islanders fan we always thought the worst thinking they could move to KC or Quebec City,” the 24-year-old  said over a series of text messages. “After realizing how painful Brooklyn was between the commute and the actual arena itself, once the idea of Belmont came to fruition my friends and I were all extremely excited.”

The Isles had broke ground at Belmont Park in September, but it wasn’t until around Thanksgiving when the idea of an account first came to the surface for Aigen.

“So my buddies and I have a group chat ‘Reasoner2Nino’ (all Islanders talk) and once they put up the live cam I began to post a picture everyday in the group chat,” he recalled. “I began to save every picture and put in a file. After a few months I decided to just make a twitter account because I felt as though more than just the five of us were excited about the new home.”

Aigen was right. The excitement of the franchise and the fans finally getting the building they’ve been dreaming about was at an all-time high. And on Thanksgiving morning, the account was active.

Once that first post went out, the account blew up. Aigen was just as shocked by the positive reaction.

“Um I didn’t really know what to expect,” he said. “The first post blew up with hundreds of likes tons of retweets. The followers kept coming. Being part of isles twitter for years I can understand why now Isles Twitter is great and extremely active. But the support has been awesome.”

The arena’s account has amassed over close to 2,200 followers and it ranges from fans to the likes of the beat writers, fan blogs, and even the Isles’ AHL club, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Still, Aigen finds it awesome some of the interactions he’s had running the account.

”Alan Hahn, Eric Hornick, Brian Compton and Andrew gross have been supportive and we’ve had interactions which have been really cool,” he noted. “It’s always fun to see a tweet that I am tagged in from them!”

As for the actual team, who do have their own live came on its official website, the response has been favorable to Aigen’s account.

“From ownership down, everybody has been beyond excited about Belmont and the fans couldn’t be more appreciative.”

When the coronavirus hit, Aigen wasn’t sure how the account would continue on. On March 27th, the state has ruled that only essential businesses could stay open. Which meant, construction was going to be halted for the arena without a resumption date determined.

“At first it was hard,” he said. “I was trying different ways to share content and stay in touch with followers.”

But Aigen stayed on top of what was going on and eventually things began to turn.

“My family and I were always reading about when construction would reopen. Governor Cuomo has been doing a great job. (Islanders general manager) Lou Lamoriello’s update and the transparency from the team was also assuring as well.”

Last week that the construction was given the green light to restart, and once again, allowed Aigen and fellow Isles fans to continue to see the future is coming and that better days are ahead.

“Words won’t even describe how excited I will be, said Aigen. “The rendering look absolutely beautiful. Of course I’m a huge fan of the coliseum and it will be emotional seeing them leave. But the new building is just another chapter for the team that embodies Long Island.”

The Islanders are not set to open their new digs till the 2021-22 campaign, but Aigen knows how special a day that will be.

“The opening of the arena will really mean a great deal to the fan base. The second construction started, the dream of the team staying on Long Island really came to fruition. Once the puck drops for the ‘21-‘22 season it will be completely official. It will really tie all loose ends and help reiterate that this islanders are a first rate franchise and ownership and management has proved that over the past few years.”

So what happens when the building is complete? Aigen says he won’t change a thing.

“Of course I will continue the account!,” he said emphatically.

“I feel like I am part of the isles twitter community and can’t wait for what’s in-store at our new home.”

Make sure to follow Aigen at @NYIBelmontArena or his personal account @JPAigen

Islanders head coach Barry Trotz wants his team to be ready for anything

New York Islanders, Barry Trotz

New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz wants his team to remember one thing once they dan begin training camp in a few weeks.

“We’re getting a chance to play for the Stanley Cup,” Trotz said yesterday during a 20-minute radio spot with ESPN 98.7’s Bart and Hahn.

“We’re being given the opportunity to win the Stanley Cup,” Trotz added. “Anybody who has won at the highest level, you know that it’s not always going to be perfect. So just accept it and embrace that moment. I’m hoping I can convey that to our team because you never know. You only get so many swings at trying to win a Stanley Cup.

“I guarantee you if you hoist the Stanley Cup up at the end of whatever playoff system they have in front of us, it’s going to feel the same way. It’s something that bonds a team forever.”

Yesterday marked the first time in over a month Trotz spoke to the media since the regular season was suspended back on March 12th due to the coronavirus outbreak. It came a day after the NHL announced its Return to Play Plan — which included the Islanders as a part of their 24-team playoff. The plan also revealed the Isles were awarded the seventh seed in the East and are set to play the 12th seeded Florida Panthers in the qualifying round.

Trotz noted he and his staff have been vigorously prepping for the possible resumption of the season during the quarantine. But with things now official, they are well aware the unique situation will bring its challenges.

“This is going to be a bit of a moving target for every team,” he said.

“We’re going to have to have a really good balance and lots of communication between the players, coaches, and trainers. I think we’re going to have to be really smart. But it’s going to be on the trainers and the players to let me know where they are so I can put them in the right situation, so we don’t have setbacks. The last thing you want is setbacks because I do think some guys will be behind, and execution is going to be what it is.”

The good thing regarding not having those setbacks, is that Trotz will finally have his team at full capacity. G.M. Lou Lamoriello told reporters Wednesday the club will have “every player available” when small group sessions resume in Phase 2 of the league’s plan, which is set to take effect in early June. That list included top-pairing d-man Adam Pelech — who suffered a torn Achilles in early January — and veterans Casey Cizikas and Johnny Boychuk.

And getting those three key players back, plus taking it to that playoff level back, Trotz believes will put his team on notice that the real grind is back.

“Training camp, the guys usually have four or five exhibition games under their belt to get their timing, to get a rhythm,” Trotz acknowledged. “Game one, they’re on, but it’s a long 82-game grind. This time we’re gonna go from zero to 60. The body usually harden from that with practice and games. We’re not going to have any of that or very much of it.”

When the Islanders do start camp again, they will have been coming off a second half in which they struggled and going winless in their final seven contests before the season was suspended. Still, Trotz believes they are in a good place.

“I think our special teams, goaltending, consistency, and depth of roster  — which I feel we’re pretty set up in — are all good,” he said confidently. “On defense, were eight deep or at least eight deep. We’ve got five veteran lines. We’re not known as the most skilled team or most explosive offensive team, but we’re still going to have to score and get to that three-goal level every night and then lock it down defensively.”

Not having fans will also pose a challenge. The Islanders are used to feeding off the crowd at the Coliseum. Playing in a neutral site will be different, but Trotz’s message remains the same: embrace it.

“It’s going to be strange,” he concluded. “But it’s will be the new normal for a while. So embrace whatever they’re throwing at us.”

The Islanders could be very dangerous come the playoffs, here’s why

New York Islanders, Islanders

Yesterday was a very good day if you’re the New York Islanders.

Not only did the organization get the green light to resume construction on their future home at Belmont Park — still slated to be ready by the start of the 2021-22 season — but general manager Lou Lamoriello revealed the exciting news that d-man Adam Pelech would be ready for when the team would begin training camp as a part of the NHL second phase of the NHL’s Return To Play Plan.

“Adam is cleared to participate in the small number of people that are allowed on the ice as if the injury never took place,” Lamoriello told reporters via a conference call.

Pelech, 25, suffered an Achilles Tendon injury prior to the Isles’ contest with the New Jersey Devils back on January 2. The setback led him to miss the rest of the season before it was postponed in mid-March due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“He has clearance, so does Casey Cizikas,’ Lamoriello added. “There are no injury of any player that I am aware of that should hold them back from participating immediately.”

The development of Pelech being healthy for the start of next year was one of the major things Islander fans had been worrying about even before the season was suspended. He is regarded as the Isles’ best defenseman and their most consistent presence on the backend. And the effect of him missing easily took its toll on the team.

Before his injury, the Islanders were 25-10-3 with Pelech in the lineup this season. After, they went a measly 10-13-7 and went from one of the top teams in the East to almost falling out of playoff contention.

Having Pelech back means that head coach Barry Trotz has his top defensive pairing back with him and Ryan Pulock; the pairing is one of the most underappreciated around the league. It also allows the pressure to be taken off some of the veterans like Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk. Those two seemed to struggle with the workload once Pelech was out. And last, Andy Greene can settle into the number-six spot on the blueline. Lamoriello made it abundantly clear that he traded for Greene because of Pelech’s absence in the top-four. Greene did a nice job since he’s come on the scene, but now he’will get the chance to play a role he can truly shine in.

Beyond Pelech, there are other reasons why the Isles being fully healthy could make them very dangerous if and when they step on the ice to face the Florida Panthers in the qualifying round of the playoffs.

Trotz will be able to roll all four lines again

No team in the entire league needs to be at full health more than the Islanders do. Because they lack those skill guys on offense and their defensive style, they need all four lines going to be successful. The results in the past have proven in the past when they have four complete lines, they are a very hard team to play against. Having all four lines rolling will allow Trotz to not have to rely on just one or two lines to produce all the offense.

The fourth line fully intact

This factor might rank right next to Pelech for how crucial they are to the Isles being a complete team. Back when the season was put on hiatus, Trotz made it clear that not having Cal Clutterbuck, Matt Martin, and Casey Cizikas together for a lot of this year had a significant effect on the team. That trio is so crucial to the identity of the team and the way they are expected to play, especially Cizikas. Cizikas, who suffered a leg laceration in February, is the hardest working player on the ice and a crucial part of the Islanders’ special teams.

The top guns and the veterans will be rested and re-motivated

Yes, it will have been four months since they played a game, but the players the Islanders depend on most for production will have had the time to reset and will be revving to go. Mathew Barzal was carrying the club for a number of weeks leading up to the hiatus with Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle. Those three will have the chance to pick up right where they left off. Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson, Derick Brassard, and Anthony Beauvillier all slowed down after the team’s fantastic run to begin the year. They, too, will get the opportunity to step their games up in the biggest way.

J.G. Pageau, who joined the team at the deadline, will also have had the chance to get more involved with the organization and his new teammates, which is very crucial.

A bolstered defense and a goalie with a chip on his shoulder

We mentioned before about Pelech returning and what it means, but in terms of the whole defense, the entire unit will be able to play to their strengths once again. The Islanders had difficulty sticking to their defensive gameplan in the second half of the season, and a lot of it was because their defense wasn’t full and got outworked. So, having all six guys on the same page can give the Isles an advantage they were known for.

For Semyon Varlamov, he’ll get his chance to show he can be a playoff performer. He hasn’t appeared in the postseason since 2014, and it wasn’t a memorable experience either — seven games, 20 goals allowed. Varlamov was having a pretty good campaign until the wheels fell off for him and the team, which should be another incentive for him to come back motivated.

Barry Trotz

There might not be another coach you’d want to have as the one leading you back into battle after such a long time between games. Trotz proved he was able to have this team ready and not suffer a lull this season after they got to the second round of the playoffs last spring. Oh, and how he was able to navigate all those injuries dealt? He’s showed once again just how valuable he is to the entire fabric of the organization. Make no mistake, he will have the Islanders ready for when the games begin again.

A clean slate

Throw out the 16-3-1 start. Throw out all the major injuries. Throw out the 0-4-3 skid before the season was almost canned. It’s a new season now for the Islanders, and the games mean more now. The playoffs are a total crapshoot, and the Isles have just as good a chance of making a deep run as any team in the Eastern Conference. You give a team a renewed sense of purpose, and there could be something special that might come out of it. That’s what the Isles are getting, and they have the opportunity to take full advantage of it.

Now, can we get to training camp already?

How does Islanders’ Mathew Barzel match up with other team greats at 23 years old?

Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders

Today marked the 23rd birthday for New York Islanders’ center Mathew Barzal.

Barzal, who was drafted back in 2015 and made his NHL debut two years later, has had a good career thus far and seems like he’s on the cusp of becoming one of the best players in the game.

Through almost three seasons, Barzal has posted 207 points in 234 games played. He won the Calder Trophy as the top rookie at the end of the 2017-18 campaign and has two All-Star appearances to his ledger. Barzal is also the co-owner of a franchise record for assists by a rookie in a season (63) with Hall of Famer Bryan Trottier.

Barzal has had a solid run before turning 23, but where does his career rank among some of the other greats to have donned the Islander crest?

First up, Bryan Trottier.

Granted the game was totally different from today, but Trottier was already building his legendary resume when he reached that age in 1979. Try this one on for size: A Calder Trophy, two All-Star appearances, an Art Ross and Hart Trophy.

Having that much amount of hardware before winning the Stanley Cup a year later puts Trottier on a whole other level that Barzal doesn’t come close to.

How about Mike Bossy?

Bossy didn’t turn 23 until the 1979-80 campaign, and we all know what that year was remembered for (Hint, hint: the Isles winning their first of four straight Cups). Individually, his numbers and accolades up until that point were incredible.

Bossy goal totals by then were 53. 69, 51. His point totals: 91, 92, 126. He also had a Calder, two All-Star nods, and two Lady Byng top-five finishes.

Again, just like Trottier, Barzal’s production isn’t up to par with what Bossy was able to do.

Let’s try Denis Potvin.

1976-77 was the year Potvin was 23, and by that time, he had already established himself as one of the best defensemen in the NHL. Potvin, who became the first Islander to be awarded the Calder after the 1973-74 season, was being groomed as the next captain — he would receive that honor a few years later — and was a bonafide star. He was an All-Star in 1973-74, 1974-75 and 1975-76, finished second in the Norris Trophy voting in ’74-’75 before winning it the following year, and received Hart consideration two straight years.

Looking at all the hardware and accomplishments, this is probably the one where Barzal might not even be allowed in the conversation.

Maybe Barzal tops Clark Gillies and Bob Nystrom? There’s an argument to be made.

Neither Gillies or Nystrom were ever considered for the Calder, but their production is close to what Barzal has done himself. Gillies first three seasons 47, 61, and 55 points; Nystrom’s — 2, 41, 58. Barzal did only score 18 times last year which could in fact be the deciding factor. Nystrom and Gillies scored at least 20 or more in two of their first three seasons on Long Island.

Barzal will have his opportunity to move ahead of those two icons down the road, but he still sits behind them at this moment.

The last two players for Barzal to try and rank ahead of are Pat LaFontaine and Zigmund Palffy.

Barzal and LaFontaine might be on an even playing field. LaFontaine turned age 23 in February 1988 but didn’t have any hardware to show off yet. What he did have already was four seasons under his belt with two 30-plus goal campaigns, plus a 70-point campaign preceded by two straight years with 50 or more points.

As for Palffy, Barzal definitely has the edge.

Palffy didn’t really come into his own after his rookie season. That first season, 1994-95, Palffy only played in 33 games and recorded just 17 points. After he celebrated his 23rd birthday in May 1995, Palffy’s next three years were terrific — 87, 90, and 87 points once again.

So there you have it. Mathew Barzal has accomplished some great things leading up to turning 23 but ranks way behind some of the other franchise greats.

Hopefully there will be another conversation ten years from now and Barzal ranks as the top dog among all these players listed. One can dream right?

FULL LIST OF TOP ISLANDER PLAYERS BY THE TIME THEY TURNED 23:

  1. Denis Potvin
  2. Bryan Trottier
  3. Mike Bossy
  4. Clark Gillies
  5. Bob Nystrom
  6. Mathew Barzal
  7. Pat LaFontaine
  8. John Tonelli

 

Islanders Continuing to build on Blue Line for the future with Bolduc Signing

While the New York Islanders wait for their future in goal to sign on the dotted line, they continue to build up their defense for the future.

Yesterday, the organization announced the signing of Samuel Bolduc to his three-year, entry-level contract.

Bolduc, 19, was selected 57rh overall in the 2019 draft by the Islanders.

This past season, Bolduc starred for Blainsville-Boisbriand Armada and the Sherbrooke Phoenix in the QMJHL. Bolduc accumulated a career-high 43 points — 11 goals and 32 assists — which tied him for eighth among d-men in the Q while splitting time between the two clubs.

Already with four years in juniors under his belt before the coronavirus pandemic hit, and playoff experience from Armada’s 2018 run to the QMJHL Finals, Bolduc seems ready to turn pro. That might not mean he will be NHL-ready by the time this year hopefully resumes or even the 2020-21 season, but a shift to higher competition could be the next best thing for the Laval native.

As The Athletic’s Arthur Staple noted yesterday, Bolduc is eligible to play in the AHL next season, whenever that may be.

It’s definitely a positive from the Isles side that being the case.

For one, they will be afforded the opportunity to do with Bolduc what they couldn’t with rookie Noah Dobson this year. Dobson was ineligible to play in the AHL this season because he was 19 when this year started, and the rule states organizations either have to keep a player of that status on their current roster or send them back to juniors. The Isles kept Dobson the entire season instead of sending him back. Bolduc will also get valuable experience of learning the speed and grind it takes to be a pro. And finally, he’ll get an opportunity to show his numbers in juniors will translate or be even better at a higher level.

The long-term outlook could also pay dividends for the Islanders if Bolduc turns out to be as advertised. G.M Lou Lamoriello and head coach Barry Trotz have built a solid foundation on the backend and have placed in a system that allows defensemen to thrive. Then there’s the fact the organization already have Dobson, who has number-one defenseman capabilities. They have Bode Wilde, who despite being hurt for most of this past year, is only 20, and still has a chip on his shoulder from dropping in the draft. Oh, don’t forget about Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock, just one of the most underrated duos in the league. Behind them are Devon Toews, Scott Mayfield, and Nick Leddy. You can even throw 22-year-old Parker Wotherspoon in time that mix if you want. He’s been building his stock up the last two years.

That’s a barrage of young D. Add another mobile, rangy d-man in Bolduc who also has a cannon of a shot as a possible regular in a season or two, and the Isles could possess one of the best defensive corps in the league.

And can we talk about the size the Isles might be bringing to the table with Bolduc  & Co. Bolduc himself in 6’4; so is Dobson. Mayfield sits at 6’5, while Pulock, Wilde, and Pelech are 6’2 and 6’3 respectively.

The Islanders aren’t just trying to develop quality NHL d-men, they’re basically building a wall; a Long Island one at that.

The future of the franchise continues to get brighter as each day passes both on and off the ice. The Bolduc news is yet another building block for how the Islanders will sustain consistent success over the next five to ten years.

Anatoly Golyshev’s Intention to play for the Islanders comes at Good Time

The end of this month was supposed to see the New York Islanders welcome their most highly-touted Russian prospect in goaltender Ilya Sorokin.

But now, the organization might be getting a two-for-one special that could have an effect on their plans for two years from now.

This weekend, news broke that Anatoly Golyshev has intentions of making his way to North America to play for the Isles in 2021. And with that, the Isles are ensured some help at filling a few of their pressing needs for the future.

Selected 95th overall by the Islanders in the 2016 Draft, Golyshev has been playing in his homeland for Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg for the past four seasons. This past year, the 25-year-old posted 25 points in 38 games. Before that, Golyshev recorded 40 points in 54 games, second-most in his career thus far; his excellent campaign prompted Golyshev to sign a four-year extension to stay in the KHL.

The hope is that once he arrives, the Islanders will be getting that version of Golyshev, as well as the one they scouted a few years ago.

When the Islanders picked him, Golyshev had been a KHL All-Star in 2015-16. He was lighting it up as the top scorer for Avtomobilist (44 points in 56 games), leading them to the playoffs where Metallurg Magnitogorsk defeated them in six games in the Conference Quarterfinals.

It’s been hard to talk about a player like Golyshev because he’s in a league that doesn’t get the same attention in the States as the NHL does. Then again, the Islanders could definitely use a player of his status, even if it’s not for another year-plus.

 

The organization’s depth on the wings has been minimal recently behind Michael Dal Colle, Oliver Wahlstrom, Kieffer Bellows, and the now soon to be gone, Josh-Ho Sang. The lack of scoring and skill at the forward position is also where Golyshev could flex his muscles. Golyshev has proven already he comes with 20-plus goals, 40 to 50 point potential despite his size.

Also, with some of the organization’s more prominent forwards starting to get up there in age — Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle are 29, Josh Bailey is 30, Brock Nelson is 28 — Golyshev would bring an injection of youth up front.

The Islanders don’t have the greatest track record with Russian prospects (see Kirill Petrov), but Golyshev could change that dynamic. We saw it this year with 27-year-old Nikita Gusev that KHL imports just take some time to adjust.

Gusev started off this year with the hype train behind him and immediately struggled. He was healthy scratched a few times in the first half of the year. But, before the season was postponed, Gusev was succeeding as one of the Devils’ best forwards with 44 points.

Maybe that’s what’s to come for the Golyshev and the Islanders, minus the healthy scratches.

Right now, the Isles will have to wait a little bit longer to see if Golyshev will be a crucial piece to their future. But until then, Golyshev has made his intentions clear.

And that’s a good thing for the organization to look forward too.

 

The Islanders need to Rally in the Aftermath of the Boychuk Incident

New York Islanders, Johnny Boychuk

In any sport, there are always moments in a long, grueling season where a team is forced to come together.

For the New York Islanders, that moment occurred Tuesday night when, in an embarrassing 6-2 pasting by the Montreal Canadiens, defenseman Johnny Boychuk took a skate to the face from the Habs’ Artturi Lehkonen that left him face down on the ice before he got up and rushed straight to the dressing room.

Somehow there was no bloodshed, but the rest of Boychuk’s teammates were severely shaken by what they just witnessed.

“I think he’ll be OK, but it doesn’t matter, it’s a scary situation,” team captain Anders Lee told the New York Post’s Mollie Walker after Tuesday’s game. “You hate to see that happen. It happens quick, skate to the face. I think that’s where all our minds are right now for sure.”

Boychuk was fortunate enough to have Lehkonen’s skate just miss his eye, instead having it catch his eyelid, which resulted in him receiving 90 — yes NINETY — stitches yesterday.

“It’s a scary moment and obviously he’s a close friend of all of ours,” Josh Bailey said. “You never want to see that happen to anyone. We were all really worried about him. When something like that happens, it’s really tough to keep playing after that. You’re worried about him and we heard some news that it looked like he’d be okay on the bench and then after the game he sent a nice text to all of us. We’re definitely happy to see him doing well.”

The Calgary native also thanked everyone who reached out to him to make sure he was ok after such a scary situation.

Islanders g.m. Lou Lamoriello met with the media yesterday and confirmed that there is no timetable for Boychuk to return. Rookie Noah Dobson will now get his chance to play in Boychuk’s spot — his strong side — as opposed to having to adjust to playing his weak side throughout this season. Lamoriello also said it’s possible that veteran Thomas Hickey, who has battled his way back from injury in Bridgeport, might be an emergency recall. He also doubled-down that he has full confidence in his group despite some of the significant setbacks recently.

“I have total confidence in this group,” Lamoriello told reporters yesterday. “I don’t think we would’ve made any transactions [before the trade deadline] if we didn’t have belief in the group that we have here and giving them some support.”

Beyond being able to replace the 36-year-old Boychuk and his strong presence in the lineup, the Isles need to use his absence as a rallying cry these last 17 games. They’ve already been down other d-man Adam Pelech since the new year and are still without fourth-line center Casey Cizikas for possibly another week or two. The team is hanging on to their wild-card spot by a thread right now, and they’ve been punched in the mouth the last two games being outscored 10-2.

Also, Boychuk now being sidelined as opposed to Pelech, and Cizikas takes on a bit more from a mental perspective for an Islander squad that isn’t ripe with a ton of veteran leaders.

Yes, there’s Lee, who is the captain and Cal Clutterbuck, who just returned, but Boychuk is one of those veterans who has the ear of the locker room and has ever since he arrived on Long Island at the start of the 2014-15 season. His rough-and-tumble style has been the identification of what it’s meant to play Islander hockey. And his ability to just rocket a shot from anywhere beyond the dots is still one of the most underrated aspects of his game. Maybe other than Ryan Pulock do the Isles possess a player who has a weapon in his arsenal that can change a game immediately.

The Islanders are going to need all hands on deck now the rest of the season in the aftermath of the Boychuk incident. Missing the playoffs after a scary situation like this would be another devastating blow to what has been a trying past couple of months for the organization.

That can’t happen. This franchise has persevered through so much over the last year and a half, and now they need to do it again without one of their most important players.

The Islanders need to come together now with Boychuk missing, and it starts tonight in Ottawa. It’s what he would want. And, it will go a long way towards where this team wants to be.