The Islanders don’t expect to lose any home-ice advantage when the postseason party moves to Brooklyn for the second round of the playoffs.
It’ll just be a railgating crowd at Barclays Center instead of the tailgating done at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum.
“Instead of being in the parking lot, they’ll be on the train,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said.
There’s no denying the special aura the Coliseum had during the Islanders’ two home games in their first-round sweep of the Penguins, or in past playoff games at the venerable barn.
But it also would be revisionist history not to acknowledge that the postseason crowds at Barclays Center, where the team will play all subsequent home playoff games, also were electric in 2016.
Barclays Center hosted two series that year. The Islanders beat the Panthers in six games when former captain John Tavares scored the winner in double overtime, giving them their first playoff series win since 1993. The Lightning then eliminated the Isles in five games.
“It was electric,” center Casey Cizikas said. “It’s kind of hard to envision after being in the Coliseum, but those series in Brooklyn were just as intense and the fans were on their ‘A’ game. It gets loud. It gets exciting. It’s a fun venue.”
Barclays Center’s capacity for hockey is nearly 2,000 more than the Coliseum’s 13,917 and there are 10 times as many revenue-generating suites. But attendance lagged during the regular season compared to the Coliseum.
“You’re talking regular-season games and fans who live in Suffolk County on a Tuesday or Thursday,” left wing Matt Martin said. “Coming to the game is tough. I wouldn’t do it. But during the playoffs, our fans are going to be there and they’ll blow the roof off the place like they always do. We’re excited to have them stand behind us. So in terms of venue, it really doesn’t matter. Our fans will bring the noise. We know that.”
Cizikas said he was told the noise was deafening when Tavares scored his double-overtime winner.
“That’s funny. Actually, I don’t remember hearing anything,” Cizikas said. “It was loud, that’s what everyone was telling me. When I think back to it, I think about just the emotion, the excitement, skating to that pile. I think I kind of drowned it out and I didn’t really hear anything, I was so excited.”
The Isles went 12-6-2 at Barclays Center and 12-7-2 at the Coliseum during the regular season.
“The only difference is a little bit of a convenience,” Trotz said.
He also said the team’s infrastructure at Barclays Center — offices, weight rooms, medical facilities, etc. — are better.
The Islanders were off on Sunday after two hard days of practice as they await the winner of the Capitals-Hurricanes first-round series. The Capitals took a 3-2 series lead Saturday. Game 6 is Monday in Carolina.
The Islanders will start the second round on the road if they face the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals but will host Games 1 and 2 and have home-ice advantage if the Hurricanes rally to eliminate the Capitals.