Essentially, Jordan Eberle disagrees with one of Bill Parcells’ most famous tropes.
The right wing doesn’t believe the Islanders are what their road record says they are.
“By no means do I think we’re a bad road team,” Eberle said after practice Friday at Northwell Health Ice Center in preparation for a three-game trip that takes them to Dallas Saturday night, Tampa Bay Monday and Florida Thursday.
While no official announcement was made regarding who would start in goal against the Stars, Semyon Varlamov was the first goalie off the ice, which could mean the free agent signee is in line to snap the franchise-record 27 game stretch of netminders alternating games.
Regardless of who starts in goal, the Islanders find themselves 7-4-1 away from Nassau Coliseum and Barclays Center, which ranks as the 11th best road record in the league. Their 12-2-1 home mark is behind only Boston for the league’s best. Additionally the Islanders have outscored opponents 50-34 at home compared with 33-28 on the road.
Collectively, the sample sizes are significant, which prompts a question: Is there something about playing away from Long Island which affects the Islanders’ style of play?
The answer is no, according to Eberle.
“We play four lines,” Eberle said. “We play simple, a structure game. That’s just the identity we’ve had all year. So as long as we’re doing that, it doesn’t matter if it’s home or road.”
The roughest stretch of the season was the pre-Thanksgiving trip to California in which the Islanders lost to the Sharks, Ducks and Kings by an aggregate 9-2. Eberle was quick to point out those losses had nothing to do with the venue they played in. Instead, the results were becaise of how they played.
“We went to [California] and played some tough teams,” Eberle said. “And really weren’t on our game and had it handed to us a bit. We got a similar road trip in that we [have] three hard teams and we have to have a better one this time around.
“I think it was three games that we really didn’t play and it could have been home or away and we would have lost ...If we were to play like the way we did on the road at home it would have been the same story. So I don’t think it would have made a difference. We have a group here that [has played] a lot of man games and guys who have played a lot of hockey, [so] I don’t think the road should really dictate how we play.”
Notes & quotes: Before practice, the Islanders announced that Otto Koivula was sent down to AHL Bridgeport. In six games this season, Koivula had two shots on goal while averaging 7:21 of ice time. “He’s a young man, 20 years old. He’s a big load. Those guys take awhile but getting some practice time with us, getting to see the NHL was a good experience for him,” coach Barry Trotz said. “This is the message, ‘You didn’t fail.’ Some guys try all their life to get to this point to play in a NHL game. It’s just the first step of a process.”
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