The Islanders closed out their penultimate season at Nassau Coliseum Tuesday night. As much as people around the league love to make fun of the old barn, opponents should be sad the Islanders are leaving the place.
That's because, for a fourth straight season, the Islanders are finishing with a sub-.500 record at home. After the 4-1 loss to the Senators, the Isles closed their home schedule with just 13 wins in 41 Coliseum dates, their worst win total at home since 2000-01, the first year Charles Wang owned the team.
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The Islanders have made the playoffs five times in the 12 seasons since, but they never have become dominant at home. That's especially true in this last four-season stretch as the Isles are the only NHL team to finish the last four seasons under .500 at home (just counting wins and losses, not overtime or shootout losses that give them a point).
Their 57 wins in that four-season span are better only than the Oilers, who lost Tuesday night and have 55. Even teams like Edmonton, who haven't made the playoffs at all during the past four seasons, have strung together a decent run of home wins; the Hurricanes (69 wins in four seasons), Flames (77) and the Jets/Thrashers (70) are working on draft lottery streaks but still can win at home.
"It should be to your advantage, obviously," Travis Hamonic said. "You get the matchups you want, you're in your own bed -- when you can't produce at home, it's incredibly frustrating. Especially the way we lost some games here this season."
Hamonic is referring to the litany of blown leads, of the one- and two-goal varieties, that left the Islanders out of the playoffs. The Islanders gave up 12 two-goal leads on home ice this season, going 2-4-6 in those games. Losing John Tavares to a season-ending injury in February certainly hurt, but giving away 14 points is a sure way to end up near the bottom of the standings.
"Our fans are passionate, that's what I love about them," Jack Capuano said. "Giving them the experience we gave them last year with the playoff games was tremendous, and it's disappointing to not have that again this year. We have to get back to where we were a year ago to give the fans a team they deserve to see."
Of course, last year's playoff team got to the postseason despite a 10-11-3 home record, the only team out of the 16 that qualified for the playoffs to make it with a sub-.500 home mark.
"That's a negative, but the positive has been that we've played well on the road, in a lot of tough environments," Hamonic said. The Islanders head into their final three games on the road at 18-18-2 after winning 14 of 24 road games last season. "At this point, we have to try and take the positives and learn from our mistakes at home."
Notes & quotes: Frans Nielsen had the Isles' lone goal, his 25th. Jason Spezza broke a tie at 1 with 7:15 to play with his second of the game . . . Brett Gallant became the 13th Islanders rookie to play this season and endeared himself to the Coliseum crowd with a knockdown of Senators enforcer Matt Kassian in the first. Gallant has spent the last 31/2seasons with Bridgeport, where he holds the team record with 66 fighting majors . . . Cal Clutterbuck (upper body) left in the first period and did not return.