Examing Potential Winter Classic Matchups for the Islanders

Hockey fans love watching hockey in its most natural form: outdoors. With the Winter Classic, each year hockey fans get to watch hockey where it was meant to be played, which is on a pond outdoors.

The New York Islanders have never played in a Winter Classic. It is highly unlikely the Islanders will play in a Winter Classic soon as they are not a big-market team and do not draw in an extremely large fanbase.

Despite this painful reality, it is always nice to imagine the Islanders will soon get a winter classic. So, with the Winter Classic taking place last week, let’s look at potential  matchups for the Islanders that would not disappoint.

3. New York Islanders vs. Edmonton Oilers 

In this matchup, you have two teams who have started to change their identity in the NHL. For years the Oilers have been in the gutter of the NHL.

They showed signs of real change in 2017 with a trip to the second round of the playoffs, but in the following seasons returned to their old ways. This 2019-20 season the Oilers started off extremely strong, but have struggled recently. However, they are still within reach of the playoffs and have enough talent to make the playoffs.

Similar to the Oilers, the Islanders have also been in the gutter of the NHL. They have not faced as many problems as the Oilers, but the team has struggled to be consistent for a good part of the decade. However, ever since Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz took over at the wheel the Islanders have been the epitome of success.

Now for the most part, with both teams trending upward a matchup outdoors with be nothing short of perfect. On top of both teams’ similar ascend in the NHL, both teams each have a world-class player for a matchup of two of the best players in the NHL. For the Islanders Mathew Barzal and for the Oilers Connor McDavid.

Who would not want to watch arguably two of the fastest skaters in the NHL take it outdoors on the pond? That, plus the obvious history, makes this a must-watch.

2. New York Islanders vs. Pittsburgh Penguins 

The Islanders and Penguins have always been a thrilling matchup. From intense regular-season games to all on the line playoff games, these two organizations have created a rivalry with one another over the years.

Over the last couple of seasons, the more experienced, talented, and better-coached Penguins have always gotten the better of the Islanders. However, the Barry Trotz coached Islanders have been able to exploit the slower, older Penguins.

And, although the Islanders of late of proven to be the better team, the two teams have created a very exciting matchup. Even this season alone, all the Islanders and Penguins games have gone to overtime so far.

In this matchup, you have the future of hockey in Mathew Barzal facing up against the past of hockey in Sidney Crosby. Moments of greatness have certainly been created when these two organizations have faced off.

In an Islanders and Penguins matchup, fans have bear witness to bench-clearing brawls, goalie fights, electric playoff goals, underdog performances, and everything in between. Why not create some more game-changing moments outdoors?

1. New York Islanders vs. Toronto Maple Leafs 

Ever since July 1, 2018 the Toronto Maple has become one of the Islanders’ biggest rivals. It may not even be considered a rivalry, but since July 1st, 2018 whenever the two clubs face-off it is a game that both Islanders’ players and fans have always shown up to.

If the matchup between these two organizations is not a rivalry just yet, perhaps it is on its way to one because Islanders fans’ hate for John Tavares’ departure is still strong. For the Islanders, the tensions are high in this matchup and the Maple Leafs have started to put pressure back on the Islanders instead of how previously the team was helplessly at the Islanders’ mercy.

In this matchup we also get to witness, the learner Mathew Barzal go head to head with the master in JohnTavares. And lastly, another theme in this growing rivalry is a system team versus a skilled team.

The Islanders are a system team and play a tight defensive game while the Maple Leafs rely heavily on the skills of one another. The Islanders fans, players and the rest of the NHL deserve this matchup outdoors on new years day.

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