Islanders remember late franchise legend Mike Bossy

A moment of silence in Bossy’s memory was observed before the Islanders topped Montreal in a shutout effort.

The New York Islanders announced the passing of franchise legend Mike Bossy on Friday at the age of 65. Bossy, one of the most renowned names in Islander history, had been battling lung cancer, previously diagnosed in October 2021.

“The New York Islanders organization mourns the loss of Mike Bossy, an icon not only on Long Island but across the entire hockey world,” Islanders President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello said in a team statement. “His drive to be the best every time he stepped on the ice was second to none. Along with his teammates, he helped win four straight Stanley Cup championships, shaping the history of this franchise forever. On behalf of the entire organization, we send our deepest condolences to the entire Bossy family and all those who grieve this tragic loss.”

Bossy remains the Islanders’ all-time leading goal scorer with 573 and also ranks third and second respectively in assists (553) and points (1,126). He trails only linemate Bryan Trottier in the franchise ranks for points after beginning his career as the Islanders’ top draft pick in the 1977 draft. Chosen in the 15th overall slot after making a name for himself in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Bossy’s services were twice denied by the New York Rangers prior to the Islanders’ selection.

Paired on the Islanders’ top line with Trottier and Clark Gillies (who passed away from cancer in January), Bossy immediately burst onto the scene with 53 goals during the 1977-78 season, setting a rookie record that stood until Winnipeg’s Teemu Selanne earned 76 in 1992-93. That kicked off a streak of nine consecutive seasons with 50-plus goals, his best output being 69 in his sophomore season. Though the nine seasons with at least 50 are tied for Wayne Gretzky for the most all-time, he’s the sole owner of the consecutive nature of the accomplishment. Bossy also shares the record for most 60-plus goal seasons with Gretzky (5) and also became the first player to match Maurice “Rocket” Richard’s legendary accomplishment of scoring 50 goals in 50 games, doing so in 1980-81.

Bossy then went on to play a vital role in the Islanders’ famed championship runs of the early-1980s, which saw him earn a majority of his franchise-record 85 playoff goals. His efforts brought the Stanley Cup to Long Island on four occasions and he also earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as the postseason’s MVP in the penultimate effort in 1982. Bossy scored seven goals in the four-game sweep of the Vancouver Canucks, tying a Stanley Cup Final record set by Jean Beliveau 26 years prior. Another rare SCF feat came in the following campaign when Bossy earned the series-winning goal for the second consecutive year (sweeping Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers), becoming the first to do so since Jack Darragh of the original Ottawa Senators (1920-21).

Back and knee injuries forced Bossy into an early retirement at the age of 30. In addition to the Conn Smythe, other individual awards included three Lady Byng Memorial Trophies for his gentlemanly play (charged with only 210 penalty minutes over his 10 seasons) and seven invitations to the NHL All-Star Game (winning the MVP Award in the 1982 edition in Washington D.C.). Bossy was elected to Toronto’s Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991, one year before the Islanders permanently his No. 22 (the second Islanders to receive such an honor after his teammate Dennis Potvin).

Bossy spent the remainder of his career in a variety of roles both in and out of the hockey realm, which included a brief stint as an analyst for MSG Networks’ coverage of the Islanders, who also brought him aboard to help in the sponsorship, fan development, and community relations departments. He is survived by his wife Lucie (to whom he’d been married since 1977) and his daughters Josiane and Tanya.

Tributes throughout the hockey world have poured in for Bossy. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman mentioned that Bossy “thrilled fans like few others” in a statement released on the league website. Current Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant declared that he idolized Bossy and his Islander teams while growing up in Prince Edward Island and later got to work with him while he served as an assistant in Union for two seasons.

Appropriately, the modern Islanders did battle in Bossy’s homeland of Montreal on Friday night, taking on the Canadiens at Bell Centre. With their jerseys bearing a memorial patch showcasing Bossy’s famous number (next to the similarly-styled No. 9 patch in Gillies’ memory), the Islanders earned a 3-0 win behind a 44-save shutout for Ilya Sorokin. A moment of silence was dedicated to Bossy prior to the opening faceoff.

“(He was) a great ambassador for the Islanders, but a greater ambassador for the game of hockey,” head coach Barry Trotz said during his pregame availability in video from SNY. “One of the great scorers in the league, one of the great people in the league, and he’ll be missed…He’s just everything everybody ever said about him exactly and more. Just a quality person.”

Forward Anthony Beauvillier acknowledged that 2022 has been a “hard year” for the Islanders organization, which also bid farewell to Jean Potvin, Dennis’ older brother and championship defenseman who passed away in March. Teammate Brock Nelson was appreciative of the efforts the Islanders have made to connect current players to their champions of the past, which afforded him an opportunity to meet Bossy and other team legends.

“Any time I ever ran into Mike, he was always so gracious, very nice to talk to,” Nelson, who had a goal and an assist in Montreal, said. “He was such a phenomenal player, he made goal-scoring look easy. So for the career he had and the person that he was, the time he gave back to the Islanders, it meant a lot to us young players, anyone in the organization to get to know someone like that, learn from them, even in those small conversations. It’s a sad day to lose Mike and our prayers are with him and his family, everyone that was close with him.

The Islanders will round out a three-game road trip on Sunday night in Toronto (7:30 p.m. ET, MSG+).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Postponed Rangers-Islanders game moved to St. Patrick’s Day

The NHL has made March 17 a holiday in more ways than one, as the Islanders and Rangers will do battle at MSG.

New York hockey fans will be more than happy to add a little blue to their St. Patrick’s Day proceedings.

The National Hockey League announced on Tuesday that Nov. 28’s postponed game between the New York Islanders and New York Rangers will now be staged on Mar. 17 at Madison Square Garden. Faceoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET with coverage likely carried on the networks of MSG.

That postponed weekend matchup was one of two Islander games delayed by a COVID-19 induced pause, the other being a Nov. 30 visit to Philadelphia. The latter contest against the Flyers has yet to be rescheduled.

Despite its move, the Mar. 17 contest still be the second iteration of this season’s in-state hockey rivalry and the first at MSG. Two further matchups are scheduled for April. The Rangers took away the first meeting on Nov. 24 by a 4-1 final at the first get-together at the Islanders’ new Belmont-based home of UBS Arena. En route to their second consecutive NHL semifinal appearance, the Islanders won six of the eight meetings placed on last year’s division rival-heavy schedule, which included a 3-1-0 mark in Manhattan.

News of the shift came shortly before each team earned big wins in Tuesday night action. The Rangers (17-4-3)  stretched their winning streak to seven with a 6-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks while the Islanders (6-10-5) stopped an 11-game winless skid in Ottawa, topping the Senators 5-3. A return to UBS Arena awaits the Islanders on Thursday night (7:30 p.m. ET, MSG+) while the Blueshirts immediately return to action on Wednesday at home against Colorado (7 p.m. ET, MSG 2/NHL Network).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Islanders News Roundup: Varlamov ready to return, Nashville outlook

Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders have an extensive break to rest their bodies and prepare for the remainder of the 2022 season. However, they are still getting back a few players from injury, including goaltender Semien Varlamov.

Varlamov, whose injury designation is unknown, played in 36 games last year with the Islanders, allowing 72 goals on 120 shots against.

“I’m feeling great right now,” Varlamov said after practice, per the NY Post. “I’m ready, ready to go. Ready to play a game.”

Varlamov has a rather solid health history, so missing camp this year was quite a surprise for the veteran goalie.

“First time in my NHL career I missed the entire camp, it never happened to me before,” Varlamov said. “But things happen. Of course it wasn’t a perfect situation for me.”

Islanders head coach Barry Trotz indicated that Varlamov could play immediately, despite fears of being rusty.

“The starting point for Varly, no matter when you put him in, will be his starting point,” Trotz said. “He’s not gonna be any more rusty than he would be now. So he could go in in Nashville [on Saturday] or he could go in in Montreal [on Thursday] or we could wait until next week. We’ll make a decision on where he is with our goaltending coaches and myself tomorrow.”

Islanders head south to take on a tough Predators team:

The Islanders a preparing to take on the Nashville Predators on Saturday afternoon at 1:30 PM. The Predators sit at 3–4 on the season, winning their last two games against the Wild and Sharks.

Roman Josi leads the Nashville team with nine points, including three goals and six assists. For the Islanders, Oliver Wahlstrom and Matthew Barzal have a combined six goals but haven’t logged an assist. Josh Bailey leads in assists with three.

With the Islanders finishing the last two games on a strong note, scoring five goals and allowing zero, they should be in for a solid competition as they travel to Nashville.

Islanders’ players thankful for needed rest period as they eye Predators

islanders

The New York Islanders are set to enjoy a healthy rest, playing just one game over the next 10 days. Despite winning their last two games, the Islanders sit at 3-2-1 on the season, losing three of their first four games. This isn’t exactly how they envisioned their start to the new campaign, as they wait patiently for the return of Anders Lee.

However, coming off a 2–0 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights, the Islanders haven’t given up a goal in two games, marking an impressive streak for goalie Ilya Sorokin. Sorokin made 42 saves as Josh Bailey, and Matthew Barzal contributed goals in the win over Vegas.

Some might feel as though the team was just beginning to hit their stride, so a lengthy rest might disrupt their momentum. Still, they should return with Lee in the rotation and the majority of their players healthy.

Islanders’ winger Matt Martin stated the team will use the time to rest and recover, per Newday:

“Yeah, it’s definitely weird schedule-wise,” Martin said. “But I think we’ll try to use that time to get some rest and recover. To start the season on this long a road trip is a big challenge, and then a few guys get the flu bug. It’s going around. It gives everyone a chance to reset and get re-energized and focus on the second part of the trip.”

Others agreed that it would be a great opportunity to see family and have a few days to rest their bodies.

“It’ll be nice,” Casey Cizikas said. “I think every guy is excited to get back, see their family, have a few days at home, get the body ready again, get the mind fresh. It’s going to be nice to get back there and have a couple of days to ourselves.”

The Islanders’ next game will be against the Nashville Predators, who have just one less win than New York. However, they do feature Roman Josi, who has seven points on the year, three more than Bailey, the Islanders’ top gun, so far.

Islanders’ Barry Trotz torches second line, saying ‘their analytics were terrible’

New York Islanders, Brock Nelson

The Islanders fell to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday evening by a score of 3–2. Unfortunately, Patrik Laine scored in overtime to give Columbus the victory, thanks to a well-timed wrist shot, beating goalie Ilya Sorokin.

For the Islanders, Mathew Barzal and Scott Mayfield contributed goals, but the team as a whole disappointed once again. The Islanders’ second line played poorly, as head coach Barry Trotz torched them for their performance.

“Their analytics were terrible” in CHI. “Think we may have to change some things around with that line.”

The line normally consists of Brock Nelson, Josh Bailey, and Anthony Beauvillier. The Islanders have plenty of talent on the second line for them to produce, but Trotz now has to consider alternative combinations.

As Matt O’Leary of Eyes on Isles points out, the second line has a goal percentage of just 16.7%, while they were expected to land over 30%. They are well behind the first line, so Trotz changing things up is justifiable. With Bailey struggling to start the year, Trotz may have to disrupt the first line to add more quality behind them.

Of course, the season is still young, and players are still getting into the groove of things, so a bit of consistency may be beneficial in the short term.

Islanders’ Barry Trotz details how important one youth player is to team’s success

kieffer bellows, islanders

The Islanders have started off the 2021–22 season with just one win over three games. After a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, the offense finally began to click, as Anthony Beauvillier, Cal Clutterbuck, and Oliver Wahlstrom all contributed goals.

A much-needed victory was on the line, and now the team will prepare to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets in the fourth game of the regular season on Thursday evening. With Wahlstrom leading the team with three points and three goals, Columbus presents a team winning two of their first three games but is coming off a 4–1 defeat to the Detroit Red Wings.

The Islanders, though, are still waiting on Anders Lee to make a return, relying on one youth player to pick up the slack in the meantime.

2016 first-round pick, Kieffer Bellows, was inserted into the game against Chicago, playing in about 13 minutes of action. He contributed five hits and one shot on goal. His development and impact will go a long way this season, especially if injuries begin to arise.

“It is [important], not only for our franchise but for every franchise,” said Trotz. “There’s some backside pressure there, which you need. You need it for the salary cap. You need it for freshness and you need it to continue filling spots. You’re always going to lose players over the years.”

Lee was scratched against Chicago, and it is unlikely he takes on Columbus on Thursday with the Islanders, but after he overcomes an illness, Islander fans will be happy to welcome him back with open arms. Of course, the pairing of Lee, Matthew Barzal, and Kyle Palmieri represent the majority of their offense.

However, keep an eye on Bellows this season — more action will help his growth, but in the meantime, look ahead to the impact of Lee’s return,

New York Rangers pregame report: Game Day vs. Islanders

The New York have their first preseason game tonight as they host the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden.

New York Rangers 0-0-0
New York Islanders 0-0-0
Venue: Madison Square Garden
Television: MSG Network

The New York Rangers will play their first of six preseason contests tonight as they host the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers will go with a lineup that will be a mixture of kids and veterans with head coach Gerard Gallant giving the younger players an opportunity to play.

Lineup

(Per Vince Mercogliano)

Chris Kreider – Mika Zibanejad – Alexis lafreniere
Barclay Goodrow – Filip Chytil – Vitali Kravtsov
Dylan Hunt – Morgan Barron – Julien Gauthier
Will Cuylle – Matt Rempe – Karl Henriksson

Ryan Lindgren – Adam Fox
Patrik Nemeth – Nils Lunkvist
Jarred Tinordi – Anthony Bitetto

Alexandar Georgiev
Adam Huska

At practice this morning, Fox, Zibanejad, Kreider, Laf, and Hunt appeared to be the PP1 unit.  Goodrow, Chytil, Kravtsov line were working together on the PP2 uni with Lundkvist at the point and Gauthier at the net front.

The Ranger’s next game will be Tuesday night against the Boston Bruins at MSG.

Anders Lee acknowledged as the biggest addition for the Islanders this year

The Islanders are off and running at training camp, and so is their captain Anders Lee.

Lee was back on the ice Thursday with his teammates for the first time since he suffered a season-ending ACL injury last March. And as he told the media, there are no restrictions and he’s 100% heading towards the regular season.

“It felt really good to be on the ice with the boys,” the Isles’ captain said after the first session. “Good day 1 of camp here. It’s one of those days where it’s an absolute workday. Good to be out here and get that under our belt… For me personally, it’s just continuing on my rehab and my progress here. It’s great to have camp to be able to do that. Just taking it day by day.”

So with Lee’s return, the consensus is the Isles should now be an even stronger threat to win a Stanley Cup. The organization did bring in key veterans in Zach Parise and Zdeno Chara this offseason, and kept most of the core intact that has appeared in back-to-back conference/Stanley Cup semifinals, but Lee is seen as biggest acquisition — funny to use that term — for them going into 2021-22.

“Well everyone talks about the Islanders and how they’ve gone so deep to the semifinals to game seven, right there to go to the Stanley Cup Finals,” said NHL Network’s Mike Johnson yesterday. “What do the need to get over the hump? Well everyone’s like you have to get more goals.

“Well they didn’t have to go find somebody elsewhere. They’ve got Anders Lee coming back. There’s your couple more goals. There’s 35 more plus playoffs so long as he stays healthy. You almost forget how team-centric the Isles are given how well they played and how deep they went without him. How good he is.”

The Islanders’ offense is expected to take a big step forward this year with Lee’s return. Before he got sidelined, he was on pace for a possible 30-goal season. The 31-year-old was also vital to a power play which really started to build some confidence. Both those elements are crucial to the club’s success. And it’s safe to argue this year more than any other.

There are still another few weeks before the regular season begins, but having Lee back in the fold has everyone associated with the Isles excited. From a leadership standpoint , he’s leading the charge once again. Lee’s production should also be right back where it was.

Additions were a major part of this Islanders squad and how they were constructed for this season. Lee is one of them. He’s the most important one for his club to finally break through.

Lamoriello’s vaccination rule another example of why Islanders are model franchise

One thing Islanders’ general manager Lou Lamoriello has ingrained in the organization since he arrived three years ago is TEAM over everything.

All aspects of what the Isles do on and off the ice — and from a management standpoint — all have the best interests of the team in mind. It’s why they’ve become a beacon of stability, not only among their NHL counterparts but in the entire sports landscape. Yesterday’s announcement from Lamoriello was just another example of this.

“We will not allow any player in our organization to participate unless they are vaccinated,” the Isles’ boss said to the media for his pre-training camp presser.

Hats off to Lamoriello for making such a statement, and I’m not just saying that too because I am fully vaccinated. It shows again the mindset of a whole group of people, not just one person.

The league made its rules clear earlier this month that unvaccinated players can be suspended by their respective clubs and lose wages per day that they aren’t fully treated. That’s something Lamoriello and the Islanders won’t tolerate.

We saw last year how much COVID could wreak havoc on teams. Just ask the Devils, Sabres and Canucks; their seasons were massively halted because of the outbreaks that took place among players and staff. The Islanders were lucky to not have any players contract the virus last season, albeit a few scares.

It was noted too that there was one minor leaguer in the organization who wouldn’t get vaccinated and the plan being for him to play for a different club in 2021-22.  That call from him to do that sends a strong message that the organization is not willing to take any chances.

“We’re very conscious of what’s going on in the world,” said Lamoriello. “The Delta Variant now and where that’s at and we will be taking every possible precaution that we can to protect, to keep our players, our staff, our coaches as healthy as we possibly can and their families.”

The NHL is reportedly nearing 100% of having its players fully vaccinated, which they should be commended for. The Islanders will be one of those teams with everyone in that category because thats how the mentality is now around here — team above everything else.

There won’t be any Zac Rinaldo type situation. The Blue Jackets yesterday said they told Rinaldo to not report to camp because he has yet to get vaxxed.

Instead, the Islanders can keep their focus on more important things at hand, like preparing for an 82-game — hopefully longer than that — journey.

Zdeno Chara could add extra element for Islanders’ special teams

The Zdeno Chara era — the second coming of it — is set to begin Thursday when the Islanders open training camp for the 2021-22 season.

It’s an exciting time for the 44-year-old, as he’s joining an Isles’ squad that has hopes of lifting the Stanley Cup this year after coming close the last two years. And there’s been a lot of chatter about how Chara will be used in the defensive rotation by head coach Barry Trotz.

Will he be playing top-four minutes alongside Scott Mayfield? Will he be paired with Noah Dobson, who’s 23 years younger his senior? Will him and Andy Greene making up the oldest defensive pairing in league history? (just joking with that one, or maybe not?)

Those questions should be answered over the coming weeks. But, there’s another part of Chara’s repertoire that the Islanders could benefit from — his ability to play special teams.

Yes, Chara has not been a true power play threat for close to five seasons now, having succeeded those duties to younger blueliners, but there’s no denying his shot is still one of the most dangerous in the league. The image of he and Ryan Pulock — who has a lethal shot of his own — on the same man-advantage should have Islander fans salivating. Chara would also probably allow Pulock more ample opportunities because the opposition’s focus would be directed toward him. with The lefty-righty dynamic of those two could become a big advantage too.

The Islanders power play absolutely needs to be better than it’s been the last few seasons. They have captain Anders Lee returning, a stud playmaker in Mathew Barzal, two sharpshooters in Oliver Wahlstrom and Kyle Palmieri, and added Zach Parise, who in a two-year span — 2018-20 — recorded 22 power play goals. Chara’s presence though, is another reason to believe he is what could take it over the top.

One of the most frustrating things about the inefficiency of the Isles’ power play units over the years has been its refusal to shoot. Well now there are no excuses with a prime shooter, facilitatorlike Chara helping man the point, whether on power play one or the quarterback on the second unit.

At the other end, Chara’s possible use on the penalty kill could be interesting. The team’s PK already has two extremely effective players in Adam Pelech and Scott Mayfield. The age he’s at, it’s hard to see the coaching staff utilizing Chara at anything other than the power play or even strength. But the future Hall of Famer showed last year he can still kill penalties. He was a part of Capitals’ PK that was top-five in the league last year.

With Chara’s length and reach, he could become a stalwart on the second unit and make things more difficult for the opposition. Something the Islanders have become good at as a whole and would only provide another advantage.

However Trotz and the coaching staff see Chara fitting, there’s no questioning how his ability can have a huge effect on the present club. Special teams maybe more than any other.

It’s a nice add on to have, and the Islanders might be very fortunate because of it in the long run.