Much was made during this season of transition for the Islanders of their decision to switch in midstream from game-day morning skates at Barclays Center in Brooklyn to game-day morning skates at IceWorks in Syosset.
But they have changed back for the postseason, which makes sense given that they stay together in a hotel the night before games, just as they did for the playoffs last season at Nassau Coliseum.
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Even though that means less time at home, it means more time for bonding, and for an exclusive focus on hockey.
“I think the playoffs are a little different,” Cal Clutterbuck said. “It’s fine. It’s good to get all together in the same spot the night before. You watch the [other] games that are going on and then you get to bed. It keeps the group together.”
Said Kyle Okposo: “It’s nice to let the body heal and relax and spend some time with the family and get away from it a bit, but at the same time you want to stay in it and make sure you are sharp mentally . . . It is important being around the guys.
“There are only eight teams playing right now. This is a bonus time. You have to use that time to get closer. We have a pretty tight-knit group, but it’s always fun to hang out with each other and keep building that camaraderie.”
The players are staying in a hotel in lower Manhattan, so the distance in miles to Barclays Center is not far. But the trip can be longer than it should be, depending on . . . well, you know.
“With the traffic around here there isn’t much down time,” Clutterbuck said. “You’re racing back to get to sleep [in the afternoon] and then you’re kind of ready to come back here. Two miles is 20 minutes.”