What's the deal with the Devils? Islanders learning they're a little different
Scouting the Devils was a tad easier for Barry Trotz and his coaching staff than it had been for the Islanders’ first 10 opponents. Finally, they are facing a team they played last season.
The Islanders (5-3-2) resume their season-opening, 13-game road trip against the Devils on Thursday night at Prudential Center. They’ve been off since having a seven-game point streak snapped in Sunday night’s 5-2 loss at Minnesota.
"I watched the Devils last night," Trotz said after the Islanders practiced on Wednesday at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow. "I had our systems’ sheet, or our scouting sheet. I was just sort of checking off, or if I saw something different. So, it’s a validation."
The Devils (6-3-2) are coming off Tuesday’s impressive 7-3 win over the Atlantic Division-leading Panthers.
The NHL realigned last season to account for the COVID-19 pandemic and limited play to within the four divisions, meaning the Islanders and Devils faced each other eight times. They will play four times this season.
Thursday marks Kyle Palmieri’s first chance to play in Newark since the Islanders acquired the right wing from the Devils on April 7, then signed him to a four-year, $20 million extension. Palmieri, originally from Smithtown, spent the bulk of his childhood growing up in Bergen County, New Jersey.
"I think it’s pretty special for him," defenseman Scott Mayfield said. "I think, having spent time somewhere, your family becomes close to that area, to the fans, to the guys on the other side. So, I’m sure it’s special for him."
It’s also the first trip back to The Rock as an Islander for former Devil Zach Parise, who left New Jersey in 2012 to sign a 13-year, $98 million deal with the Wild.
But these Devils have a much different roster, even dating to Palmieri’s departure.
So, while Trotz was able to check off many of his notes from last season’s scouting report on the Devils, there were some new notes to be written after Tuesday night’s game.
"They’ve changed some things," Trotz said. "They’ve gone to a little different format in a couple of areas. So, it was a little bit of validation versus just starting from a fresh start, which we got to do with a couple of teams because we haven’t played them for a while. So, it was a little bit easier.
"But they’re playing very well. They’ve got some good, young talent and added some pieces on the back end."
Notes & quotes: Leo Komarov, who cleared waivers and was reassigned to the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport on Oct. 19 but never reported, is reportedly heading to Russia to play for SKA Saint Petersburg in the KHL. Komarov, 34, in the final season of a four-year, $12 million deal, played five seasons in the KHL for Moscow Dynamo before joining the Maple Leafs full time in 2014. "I heard those rumors, too," Trotz said. "I have nothing official as of yet." . . . Mathew Barzal will play in his 300th career game.