Islanders have endured a prolonged letdown at Nassau Coliseum
On more than one occasion after an Islanders victory at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum as the aging facility reverberated with chanting fans, coach Barry Trotz prophesized that playing in the cozy confines would be worth an extra 10 to 12 points for the playoff push.
There have been thrilling wins in front of delirious sellout crowds, most notably a 3-2 comeback victory over the Blue Jackets on Dec. 1 in the first regular-season game at the Coliseum since 2015 and the emotional 6-1 win over Toronto on Feb. 28 in John Tavares’ return.
But the Coliseum has not provided the anticipated home-ice advantage in this stretch of eight of nine in Uniondale, which continues Monday against the Blue Jackets. The Islanders have dropped four of six at the Coliseum, including Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Flyers and a 4-1 loss to the Flyers six days earlier.
The Blue Jackets, who hold the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, are six points behind the Islanders in the Metropolitan Division.
Right wing Jordan Eberle said: “You think you want to make some leeway and really pull ahead and solidify ourselves going into the playoffs. We obviously didn’t do that. We’re going through some adversity now.”
The Islanders, who will play 21 games at the 13,917-seat Coliseum — including their final 12 home games — plus the first round of the playoffs, are 8-5-2 in the venerable building. They finished 12-6-2 at Barclays Center.
There’s no denying the crowd energy is better at the Coliseum than at Barclays, but the frustrated fans booed plenty Saturday night. “At the end of the day, it’s not really up to [the fans]; it’s up to us to create the energy, create the atmosphere,” Eberle said. “We’ve failed to do that a little bit.”
Reminded of his prediction that the Coliseum would be worth an additional 10 to 12 points, Trotz acknowledged that it hasn’t worked out that way.
“No, it hasn’t,” he said. “I still believe it’s a great atmosphere. [Saturday] night, it wasn’t a great atmosphere when you’re getting booed. That sort of sucks the energy out of your bunch. But we have to give them a little bit to cheer.”
The Islanders were 0-for-3 on the power play, including a failed five-on-three advantage, against the Flyers and are 0-for-21 in an eight-game stretch.
“They were getting on us and they have a right to do that,” Trotz said. “But we’re going to need their energy of when that building is rocking. Don’t make us grip our sticks. Cheer for us. Be on the right side.”
The Islanders’ home struggles are part of a so-so 10-7-2 stretch since their combined All-Star break and bye week.
After Thursday’s game against the visiting Canadiens, the Isles finish the season with eight of 12 on the road. “We’ve got 14 games to see if we can be one of the teams that can get an invitation to the dance,” Trotz said. “There’s only so many chairs.”