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Islanders’ road to playoffs may be settled on one long trip

Head coach Doug Weight of the New York

Head coach Doug Weight of the New York Islanders looks on in the first period against the New York Rangers at Barclays Center on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017 in Brooklyn, New York. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Islanders’ playoff hopes — and Doug Weight’s long-term future as the team’s coach — largely could be determined during the longest road trip in franchise history.

After hosting the Devils on Sunday in the second game of a back-to-back against New Jersey, the Islanders will play nine consecutive away games before returning to Barclays Center on March 13.

The Islanders, one point behind Toronto for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference, will play 18 of their remaining 26 games on the road. They are 7-12-4 away from Barclays Center and are tied with Carolina and Dallas for the fewest road wins.

“The road will [dictate], no doubt about it,’’ Weight said Friday at Northwell Ice Center. “Every team goes through it, you’ve got to win on the road, so it’s a challenge for us. We’ve got to find a way to bottle that home feeling we’ve had. Everybody has road trips. I remember we used to have the rodeo in Edmonton; we were gone for 23 days every single year the same time.’’

In this instance, the circus is coming to Barclays on Feb. 23-March 3, followed a few days later by the Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball tournament.

“It’s probably not ideal,’’ John Tavares said, “but at the same time, it is what it is. I don’t know what team ever feels like they have a perfect schedule.’’

A Barclays spokesman pointed to similar scheduling situations at other venues. The Kings recently were displaced from Staples Center in preparation for the Grammy Awards and are playing 21 of their last 35 games on the road.

“On the road, we’re going to play some good teams,’’ Weight said. “We know we have a huge test in front of us. We’ve got to bring our ‘A’ game and find a way to compete at the same level we do at home, and I’m confident we will.’’

The team will break up the trip by practicing at home for a few days after playing in Columbus on Feb. 25.

Tavares is a big supporter of having Weight back next season, especially if the team makes the playoffs.

“No question,’’ Tavares said. “I think that will prove to show just how much we overcame to get there, considering the hole we were in. Dougie is very well respected in the room. He’s a great hockey guy. Everyone knows what he did as a player, but I think he’s a real intelligent person, handles people really well, very good to deal with, has been a really good communicator.’’

Asked about his feelings, Weight said: “I think it’s human nature. It’s going to be in the back of your mind, right? When I signed on, I knew the stipulations in front of me and I told myself a few things, but one was I’m going to try to win every single game, try to prepare as good as I can and get these guys in a position to get back in it and have some meaningful games. So we’ve gotten to that point and I’m going to keep going . . . When you work hard at things and you produce, things will take care of themselves.’’

New York Sports