Eric Nystrom had been going to Nassau Coliseum, either as a young fan or as a visiting player, for three decades or so. His first trip to Barclays Center was a very different experience, though he did catch one familiar sight as he stepped onto the ice for the Nashville Predators' morning skate Thursday.
"It was nice to see that banner up there," Nystrom said of his father's No. 23 in the rafters. "It's definitely different, though. It's still the Islanders, but it definitely is different."
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Bob and Michelle Nystrom came to Barclays Center to see Eric play, as they always did to the Coliseum when Eric came in with the Flames, Stars and Predators during his eight-year career. Plenty of other Long Island friends also made the trip, and some of Eric's old pals have the same gripes as many other longtime fans about the move.
"Of course it's going to be that way -- it's much easier for everyone to drive to the Coliseum than to get here," Eric Nystrom said. "At the same time, it's a pretty great place they have here. It's not the Coliseum, which we're all used to. Sometimes change is tough."
In his last game at the Coliseum Feb. 19, he delivered a clean hit that knocked out Mikhail Grabovski with a concussion for more than two months.
"Sometimes those plays happen," he said. "He had his head down . . . You never want to hear someone's hurt. It stinks."
Nashville has another Long Island product, Island Park's Anthony Bitetto. who was a healthy scratch for the fourth straight game.
Halak, Hickey closer
Jack Capuano didn't change his lineup, with Jaroslav Halak (upper body) and Thomas Hickey (fractured thumb) needing more time. Halak skated before the morning skate and Hickey skated with the team.