The New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes racked up notable credentials last season, so they are heading into the new season with more goals for success.
They will have the chance to find out how they rank right away.
“You probably need to be more excited,” said Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour. “But as a coach you are still a little worried. “
The Islanders (32-17-7 last season) and Hurricanes (36-12-8) will meet to open the season Thursday night in Raleigh, NC
Islanders are eager to begin as well, although it is the start of a different kind of journey. The team will start with 13 consecutive road games before moving to a new home arena.
The Islanders reached the conference finals last season before losing to eventual champion Tampa Bay Lightning. The Hurricanes dropped out of the playoffs in the second round, also eliminated by the Lightning.
The motivation to do better now is there for both teams, and the journey begins this week.
“You have to take it to the next level,” Islanders coach Barry Despite said. “They recognize it. We have to take that next step if we can.”
The Islanders have been dubbed a potential contender based on a strong unit of returning players as well as roster improvements. They added left winger Zach Parise, who has scored 393 goals in 1,060 career games in 16 NHL seasons.
“I think it’s business as usual,” said Despite, accepting the heightened expectations. “People are going to expect you to do well. If we don’t get off on the right foot, there will be questions.”
The Islanders will also start the season with Zdeno Chara, a 44-year-old defenseman, in the lineup.
These teams did not meet last season due to the pandemic timeline and division setup. They are back together as members of the Metropolitan Division.
The Hurricanes won the Central Division regular season last season. Brind’Amour has been voted the best coach in the league, but the roster has been reshuffled.
New Carolina goalies include Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta. They will have different combinations in front of them.
“We will find out. There will definitely be a learning curve, ”said Brind’Amour. “I hope the work these guys did cover up all the little mistakes.”
Much of the core Carolina skaters remain on the roster with captain Jordan Staal, forwards Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, Andrei Svechnikov and Martin Necas, and defensemen Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce. Center Vincent Trocheck, one of the team’s top producers last season, came out of the injured reserve after missing most of the preseason.
Still, it is possible to have up to eight newcomers in the Carolina roster. A full training camp was a blessing.
“It helped because we have so many new faces,” said Brind’Amour. “At the end of the day, you’re going to learn as you play.”
Islanders forward Matt Martin is suffering from an ankle injury that could prevent him from playing this week.
“He’s progressing quickly, but he needs a little more time, so I doubt he’ll be in (the roster) on Thursday night,” said Despite.
Not to be confused with the star Carolina forward, the Islanders also have a Sebastian Aho on the roster. He’s a defender.
Carolina finished 20-3-5 at home last season. The Hurricanes will be on the road for three games after their first game of the season.
– Field level media