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5 things to watch for as Islanders enter 2019-20 NHL season

Semyon Varlamov practices during Islanders camp at Northwell

Semyon Varlamov practices during Islanders camp at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. Photo Credit: James Escher

Can goalie Semyon Varlamov replace Robin Lehner?

OK, replace is not the right word. But the often-injured Varlamov, who signed a four-year, $20 million deal, has big skates to fill after Lehner, now with the Blackhawks on a one-year, $5 million deal, was a Vezina Trophy finalist in his one season on Long Island and shared the Jennings Trophy with Thomas Greiss as the Islanders allowed the fewest goals in the NHL.

The continued development of Mathew Barzal and Devon Toews

They are the Islanders’ most dynamic young players and both figure to develop through sheer experience. Barzal, the top-line center, is entering his third NHL season while Toews, a legitimate top-pair defenseman, is entering his first full season.

Which Jordan Eberle?

The Islanders need the goal-scorer who had four in the four-game first-round sweep of the Penguins and had five of his 19 regular-season goals over the last seven games.

The power play

The Islanders ranked 29th in the NHL last season and ex-Maple Leafs assistant Jim Hiller now runs the man advantage instead of the departed Scott Gomez. There was better puck movement and more of a willingness to direct pucks at net during the preseason.

A quick start

The Islanders, who are playing 28 games at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum and 13 at Barclays Center, play five of their first six at home. In all, 12 of their first 17 are at home, all but three at the Coliseum. The Islanders had nearly identical home and road records last season — 24-13-4 and 24-14-3 — but this is a great opportunity for a quick start to this season.

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