Islanders will try to get the Devils off their back
The Islanders open the season with a familiar opponent, having opened last season's shortened schedule with the Devils as well.
What the Islanders don't want are some of the familiar results against the Devils, who had a tendency to stifle the Isles during the last two seasons.
"We're not going to change the way we approach the game, even though the Devils can do some things to keep you in check," Jack Capuano said after the last Islanders practice before Friday night's opener in Newark. "We have to play our style to be successful no matter who we're up against."
The Devils don't look a whole lot like the clampdown Devils of yore, aside from Martin Brodeur, who will get the start in goal at the Prudential Center, his 88th career appearance against the Islanders.
And the Islanders don't look much the same as they did even at the start of last season, when the Devils got out to a 1-0 lead and slowed things down to hand the Islanders a 2-1 loss. The Isles did break through against the Devils, scoring 13 goals (six of them by John Tavares) in three wins over New Jersey last season, but the Devils have held the Isles to one goal or fewer in seven of the last 11 meetings.
The Islanders want to play with speed, and their offseason additions fit that mold. Peter Regin and Pierre-Marc Bouchard both play an up-tempo game, and those two will pair with rookie Brock Nelson on a third line that can keep up with the top two lines in terms of pace.
The Devils went a different direction in the offseason, going with older veterans on the open market to try to fill the gaping void left by the departure of Ilya Kovalchuk for his native Russia. Jaromir Jagr, Ryane Clowe and Michael Ryder were the big Devils additions up front. Their draft-day trade for goaltender Cory Schneider was a bold move, and he got the start Thursday night in Pittsburgh.
New Jersey still can be a tough slog if the Islanders fall behind.
"There needs to be some patience there at times with that club," Capuano said. "But we want to be a team that's aggressive, that moves its feet and puts teams on the defensive. That goes for all our opponents."
Notes & quotes:Capuano didn't divulge his starting lineup and goaltender, but it's a safe bet that Evgeni Nabokov starts in goal and Matt Donovan gets the call over Matt Carkner and rookie Griffin Reinhart on defense . . . Cal Clutterbuck (leg laceration) skated with his teammates for the first time since suffering his injury on Sept. 17. He's still a couple of weeks away from returning.