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Season preview: New York Islanders

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Season preview: New York Islanders

To get you ready for the 2015-16 season, we will be previewing all 30 NHL in 30 days, division by division. Check the bottom of the page for a schedule of each preview.

Today’s team: New York Islanders

2014-15 record: 47-28-7, 3rd in the Metropolitan

How they finished: Lost in seven games to Washington in the conference quarterfinals

Coach: Jack Capuano (6th season)

Notable additions: G Thomas Greiss

Notable subtractions: C Tyler Kennedy, RW Colin McDonald, G Michal Neuvirth, D Lubomir Visnovsky

RELATED: What can the Caps expect from Oshie, Williams at right wing?

Schedule against the Capitals: Thu. Jan. 7 at New York, Thu. Feb. 4 at Washington, Thu. Feb. 18 at New York, Tue. Apr. 5 at Washington

Outlook: Unlike last year in which the Islanders made headlines by acquiring defensemen Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk a week before the season, this summer was rather quiet as general manager Garth Snow appears satisfied with the talent he has assembled and will look to see some measure of progress on the ice.

If you think the Caps have had a tough time lately in the playoffs, that's nothing compared to the Islanders. While the Caps have not advanced past the second round of the playoffs since 1998, the Islanders have not advanced past the first round since 1993. Of course, four Stanley Cups help soften that blow, but I digress.

While New York may not have made many changes on the ice, they will be making one major move off of it as this year they trade in the friendly confines of Nassau Coliseum where they played for 43 years for the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. That transition will be made a lot easier if the Brooklyn fans embrace their new team. If not, the Islanders will not have much of a home ice advantage to speak of the first few years.

The Islanders are of course led by John Tavares, their superstar captain who was among the finalists for the Hart Trophy last season. Tavares is entering his seventh season in the league despite the fact that he turns only 25 in September.

This is a very young team and they may actually be getting younger as Michael Dal Colle and Ryan Pulock will challenge for roster spots in training camp. Dal Colle had 93 points in 56 games in the OHL last season while Pulock managed 17 goals and 12 assists in AHL Bridgeport.

Jaroslav Halak provides some stability for a sometimes shaky defense that will be without veteran defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky.

But while there is plenty of reason for optimism for this young roster, there are also some questions as well.

Tavares is one of the NHL's elite players, but it is safe to say the Islanders are behind where they were hoping to be six years after drafting him. Tavares has led the Islanders to the playoffs only twice and never out of the first round. In his first six years, Sidney Crosby helped the Penguins reach the playoffs five times winning the conference twice and the Stanley Cup once. Even Alex Ovechkin, often criticized for his lack of postseason success has reached the second round four times.

That lack of playoff success hasn't gone unnoticed as evidenced by the fact that, despite coming off his best season as coach of the Islanders, there was speculation as to whether Jack Capuano would remain coach. Kyle Okposo's name was also rumored to be on the trading block throughout the summer. The veteran winger is entering the last year of his contract, but he also is the second best player on this team behind only Tavares.

The Islanders find themselves with lots of cap space, but without a GM currently willing to spend it as Snow said, "these young players are going to need new contracts when they get out of their entry-level contracts. Raises are usually in order when the player performs."

Snow sees the problem Tampa is now facing and is keeping plenty of room open to ensure that he can afford to keep his budding stars. While Tampa was playing for a Stanley Cup last June, however, Snow's Islanders were watching from home.

If Snow plans too much for the future, he can't keep wondering why they aren't getting any better in the present.

Expectations: The Islanders are one of the tougher teams to predict. I could see them being one of the best teams in the division and the conference or I could see them fighting for a wild card spot.

The talent is there, no question about it, but the Islanders seem to lack that key piece that can turn them from a good team into a great one. For the Penguins, the acquisition of Bill Guerin served as a lynchpin to their Cup run. Bruce Boudreau finally got over the second round hump when the Ducks added Ryan Kessler.

The Islanders just don't have that x-factor.

With money to spend, New York is going to be at the center of every trade rumor in the NHL this season. Snow wants to keep cap space open for his young players, but if the Islanders struggle they will be in the market for rental players with expiring contracts to help them finally reach the second round.

I just don't see enough progress from the Islanders' core to think they will be able to keep up with teams like Tampa Bay, Montreal, Washington, Columbus and Pittsburgh, etc. There is enough talent there to reach the postseason and, given the right matchup, maybe even the second round. Beyond that, I still believe the Islanders are a year and a player or two away from competing for the conference.

MORE CAPS: Team Russia fined for walking off the ice at Worlds

See more team previews:

Pacific Division 
Anaheim Ducks 
Arizona Coyotes 
Calgary Flames 
Edmonton Oilers 
Los Angeles Kings
San Jose Sharks 
Vancouver Canucks

Central Division 
Chicago Blackhawks
Colorado Avalanche
Dallas Stars
Minnesota Wild
Nashville Predators
St. Louis Blues
Winnipeg Jets

Atlantic Division 
Boston Bruins
Buffalo Sabres
Detroit Red Wings
Florida Panthers
Montreal Canadiens
Ottawa Senators
Tampa Bay Lightning
Toronto Maple Leafs

Metropolitan Division 
Carolina Hurricanes
Columbus Blue Jackets
New Jersey Devils 
New York Rangers 8/27 
Philadelphia Flyers 8/28 
Pittsburgh Penguins 8/29 
Washington Capitals 8/30

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Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Sabres will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Sabres game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals (34-20-7) take on the Sabres (18-32-11) Saturday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Capital One Arena.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME ON?

The Capitals-Sabres game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Sabres
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Sabres game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Michal Kempny - Brooks Orpik

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals-Panthers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

CAPITALS-SABRES OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

Alan May knows a thing or two about the trade deadline.

Over the course of his NHL career, May was traded five total times, four at the trade deadline. He sits down with Rob Carlin on a special edition of the Capitals Extra Podcast to tell stories from his playing days about what it was like getting traded.

This one's a can't miss for hockey fans. You can listen to the episode here on the Capitals Extra page or with the player below.