This is a week of firsts for John Tavares. The Islanders' young star center will play in his inaugural playoff game Wednesday night in Pittsburgh. On Monday night, he paid his first visit to his future home, Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
He and a few teammates took the train to Atlantic Terminal, crossed the street and watched the Nets' playoff game against Chicago. Tavares and Matt Moulson appeared on the big screen, doing a public service announcement about arena policy.
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"It was a great atmosphere. Obviously, the Nets, in an elimination game, had a big win," Tavares said Tuesday morning after practice at Nassau Coliseum, which the Islanders will leave in either 2014 or 2015 and move to Brooklyn.
"You take a look and wonder how the setup would be for hockey," he said. "There's still, I think, a lot to be determined, but it's a beautiful facility, world class. Whenever we get there it will be an exciting time. It will be a nice new home."
Moulson was close enough to the playoffs last year to touch them, even though he was not a participant, what with brother-in-law Jonathan Quick being the goalie for the champion Kings.
"I've watched the playoffs for as long as I can remember, four or five years old, watching mainly the Leafs. When guys hoist the Stanley Cup over their heads, you want to be that guy," Moulson said. "I think getting a firsthand look at it last year kind of lights a fire in your belly, even more so than you already have."
Defenseman Mark Streit said there was a conditioning advantage early in the season for players, such as himself and Tavares, who played internationally during the lockout, but everyone is on the same level now . . . Anders Nilsson was chosen to make the trip as a third goalie, coach Jack Capuano said, adding that forward Anders Lee, who scored in his first Islanders game after arriving from Notre Dame, returned to college for final exams.