New York Islanders 2013-14 Schedule: 5 Must-Watch Games You Can't Miss
The brand of hockey the youthful New York Islanders put together last season has made each game scheduled for 2013-14 seem as though it has the potential to be an instant classic.
Renewed rivalries as well as new-born rivalries born in the new Metropolitan division, matchups against teams in the West the Isles haven't seen in quite some time and an outdoor game should have fans jubilant about the first puck drop that's now less than a week away.
While Long Island has a lot to be excited about in 2013-14, here are five games that no one will want to miss.
Oct. 25: New York Islanders at Pittsburgh Penguins
Game: New York Islanders at Pittsburgh Penguins, 7 p.m. ET, Oct. 25
2013 season series: 1-4-0
Headed into the 2013 NHL Playoffs, the Islanders were an afterthought. The No. 1-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins were Stanley Cup favorites for many pundits, and the Islanders were, well...there.
The Islanders shocked everyone when they pushed the series to six games.
An offseason has come and gone, and with a bolstered lineup this season, the Islanders will look to extract revenge against the Pens. Their first chance will come in Pittsburgh on Oct. 25.
Like any divisional matchups, this will be intense. The first meeting since last season's playoffs should be extra chippy out there, as both teams still have a bad taste in their mouth about the way they each exited the playoffs.
While no one wishes an injury on the netminder, the Isles can rest a little easier knowing that Tomas Vokoun will likely not be healthy for the game as he recovers from a having a blood clot removed, per CBS Sports' Brian Stubits. The 37-year-old Czech goaltender was responsible for three of the Islanders' four regular-season losses to the Pens and was 2-0 in the first-round playoff series.
Jan. 29, 2014: New York Islanders vs. New York Rangers (At Yankee Stadium)
Game: New York Islanders vs. New York Rangers (at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, N.Y.), 7:30 p.m. ET, Jan. 29, 2014
2013 season series: 1-1-2
It should be obvious, but the New York Islanders first ever outdoor hockey game will be one of the highlights of the year.
The Rangers will be much more well-versed in outdoor affairs. By the time the puck drops, they will have played in three previous outdoor games since 2012.
Per Tal Pinchevsky of NHL.com, John Tavares said, "It's a regular-season game, it's an important game. Obviously it's playing against our rivals; that's exciting. You just really get to experience all the time you've taken to get to the National Hockey League. Everything it took. A lot of that for me was playing outside."
Three of the four games between the two teams went to overtime last season, including a shootout victory for the Islanders, their only win against the Rangers in the shortened season.
Feb. 27, 2014: Toronto Maple Leafs at New York Islanders
Game: New York Islanders vs. Toronto Maple Leafs, 7:30 p.m. ET, Feb. 27, 2014
2013 season series: 2-0-1
These teams combined for 28 goals in three games last season. The fireworks are likely to match that this season considering both teams are returning similar defensive lineups and arguably only got better on offense.
The biggest difference could the addition of Jonathan Bernier. The Islanders abused James Reimer and Ben Scrivens last season.
Toronto has been on a similar path as the Islanders. Their return to the playoffs last season was the first time they'd appeared since 2004, an even longer drought than what the Islanders managed to end last year.
Both teams could be battling a place among the last few playoff spots in the East, and getting the leg up in February could go a long way down the stretch.
March 6, 2014: New York Islanders at Edmonton Oilers
Game: New York Islanders at Edmonton Oilers, 9:30 p.m. ET, March 6, 2014
2013 season series: —
These two teams have not played each other since Dec. 31, 2011. When they meet for the first time more than two years later, there will be some of the NHL's best young talent on display as teams jockey for playoff positioning.
This may be the toughest stretch of the Islanders' season, as it is the second game of a four-game road trip to western Canada that spans six days. Faltering that late in the season on the trip could hold the Islanders out of the playoffs.
Isles fans will get to see young stars Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Nail Yakupov, among others, but they'll hardly be hoping to see their talent put on full display. And with Edmonton likely in the midst of their own playoff push, this is one worth staying up late for.
New York returns home March 10 with four straight home games. Gaining momentum against some of the West's top stars could add a propelling effect to their hopes of a return to the postseason.
April 10, 2014: New York Islanders at Montreal Canadiens
Game: New York Islanders at Montreal Canadiens, 7:30 p.m. ET, April 10, 2014
2013 season series: 2-1-0
The Islanders usually perform well in Montreal, and doing so in this game could be the difference between a playoff berth and sitting out of the 2014 NHL Playoffs.
Their third-to-last game will likely have some big implications for both teams.
Last season, New York's only trip to Montreal had a dramatic finish that saw Thomas Hickey score his first NHL goal in overtime to bring home the win after Frans Nielsen tied the game at three when they were 9:51 into the third period.
Three of their last five games played in Montreal have gone to overtime, and all three were wins for the Islanders.