As the early stages of the 2023 NHL offseason begin, the league released next season’s schedule on Tuesday. With opening night just over three months away, fans are already marking their calendar’s for their team’s marquee matchups. For the New York Islanders, their schedule has four games against their arch rivals in the Rangers, including one at MetLife Stadium, multiple swings on the west coast, and various streaks at home and on the road. With the schedule now public, here’s a closer look.
The Islanders begin their season with a home-heavy schedule at UBS Arena. The team will host the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, October 14 to kickoff their season, and five of their next seven games will be home games. After hosting the New Jersey Devils to wrap up a three game homestand, they will travel to Buffalo in an opening night rematch on October 21. The team returns home for games against the Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators before facing the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena, and the month will end against the Detroit Red Wings on October 30. With a good mix of playoff contenders and upstart franchises, October is a good early test for the Islanders, and all the home games could help them to a solid start.
November will see the Islanders focus mostly on Metropolitan Division rivals and their Western Canada road trip. The month opens for the Islanders in the nation’s capitol on November second, followed by a playoff rematch against the Carolina Hurricanes on November 4. After bookend home games with Minnesota and Washington, along with a trip to Boston in the middle, the team will venture to Edmonton, Vancouver, Seattle and Calgary. Following the week-long swing, the Islanders have two home games against the Flyers, sandwiching a short trip to Ottawa the night after Thanksgiving. However, November concludes with a three game roadtrip, starting with New Jersey and Carolina to finish the month. With various division rivals and a long trip on the docket, November is difficult with nine of 14 games on the road.
Unlike November, last month of 2023 is similar to October: very home-heavy. Following their final stop of the three game trip against the Panthers, the team will have a season-long six game homestand. Highlighting the homestand are all three California teams, the Columbus Blue Jackets, their old captain in John Tavares and the Maple Leafs and the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Boston Bruins. However, the Islanders will jump between UBS Arena other Eastern Conference cities following the homestand, visiting Montreal, Washington and Carolina with a home game against the Oilers in the middle. The year ends with bookend games with Pittsburgh, one in each team’s building, and a visit from the Capitals. With December being a home-dominant schedule, the Islanders can try to make something happen, but like November, divisional matchups loom large.
2024’s first month is similar to November 2023, as the Islanders only have five home games out of 13 contests. The year starts with a difficult stretch, facing Colorado, Arizona, and the Stanley Cup champion Golden Knights on the road. While the Islanders will return for two home games against Vancouver and Toronto, they will go to the midwest the following week, facing Nashville, Minnesota, Winnipeg and Connor Bedard and the Blackhawks. However, the final week before the All Star break will see the Islanders mostly at home, save a short trip to Montreal, as they host Dallas, Vegas, and Florida to wrap up the first half. With the reigning champs on the docket and a pair of tough Western Conference trips, it will be interesting how the Islanders handle the magnitude of each trip and face the few home games they have.
Following the All Star game, February is split evenly with five games apiece on the road and at home. The Islanders will visit the site of this year’s festivities, Toronto, to kickoff the second half, followed by a four game “homestand.” While the stretch features the Tampa Bay Lightning, Calgary Flames, and Seattle Kraken at UBS Arena, it culminates in the 2024 Stadium Series at MetLife Stadium against the Rangers. The Islanders are the home team of record, but the atmosphere will be electric as the two team’s fanbases will both travel well. Following the outdoor game, four of their next five will be on the road. With two game road trips bookending another visit from the Lightning, they will visit Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Dallas, and Detroit in that span. While the obvious focus is the Stadium Series, several contenders highlight February’s itinerary.
March & April:
For the final 23 games of the season, the team will be jumping back and forth between home and on the road. The team will start March at home for Boston and the Blues, but go on their California road trip with their final stop in Buffalo. All games from that point forward will be on the East Coast, starting with three straight games in lower New York. In between home games against Ottawa and Carolina, the Isles and Rangers will meet for a St. Patrick’s Day matinee. From there, several short stints at home and away help finish off the year, with matchups against Detroit, both Florida teams, Philadelphia, Columbus, and the two tri-state rivals again. At home, the end of the year features Winnipeg, the Devils, Chicago, Nashville, the Rangers, Montreal and the Penguins to wrap up the season on April 17.
If the Islanders are in the running for a playoff spot post-trade deadline, it will be a difficult task with the names and places on the schedule late. Additionally, there will be several stretches where the Islanders will be battle tested, both with road trips and rivalry matchups. However, the schedule has both exciting matchups and points where the Islanders can stake their claim as legitimate contenders.