The Islanders will take whatever games they can get at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum. So the decision, announced Friday, to have first-round playoff games in Uniondale and subsequent rounds at Barclays Center was seen as a positive.
“It’s definitely nice to start in our own barn,” left wing Anthony Beauvillier said before Saturday night’s 5-2 win over the Oilers at Barclays Center, the last 2018-19 regular-season game in Brooklyn. “Yeah, it’s pretty weird, but we’ve split rinks the whole year. It has to do with business and money-wise as well.’’
Barclays Center has a capacity of 15,795 with 101 suites compared to the Coliseum’s capacity of 13,917 and 11 suites. Friday’s news release noted that the refurbished Coliseum is too small for NHL standards.
“It is what it is, but it’s pretty cool to start at the Coliseum,” Beauvillier added. “Early in the year, we were talking about it a little bit and I don’t think we would have played at the Coliseum. So it’s pretty nice that we get the chance to play there.”
“No. 1 is we’ve got to get there,” coach Barry Trotz added. “But I think that’s great for the fan base, great for the players, great for the organization.”
President and general manager Lou Lamoriello said the arena compromise is “absolutely” acceptable and is happy that a decision finally has been made. But he added that having playoff games at the Coliseum is important for the fan base.
“I think it’s the right decision,” Lamoriello said.
The Islanders, of course, won four straight Stanley Cups from 1980-83 while playing at the Coliseum and had a memorable final playoff series there against Trotz’s Capitals in 2015, losing the first-round series in seven games. But the Islanders’ lone playoff series win since 1993 came in a six-game win over the Panthers in the first round in 2016, including a 2-1 double-overtime win in Game 6 in Brooklyn. The Islanders then lost a five-game series to the Lightning, but all five playoff games at Barclays Center sold out.
“I think our fans are the ones that create the atmosphere,” right wing Josh Bailey said. “The opportunities I’ve had to play in the postseason, it’s been phenomenal memories that last a lifetime.”
Added right wing Cal Clutterbuck, “I remember that series [against the Panthers] being pretty crazy and it got crazy against Tampa as well. That building was electric. They’re two completely different buildings, but we feel pretty comfortable playing in both.”