Much was made during this season of transition for the Islanders of their decision to switch in midstream from game-day morning skates at Barclays Center in Brooklyn to game-day morning skates at IceWorks in Syosset.
But they have changed back for the postseason, which makes sense given that they stay together in a hotel the night before games, just as they did for the playoffs last season at Nassau Coliseum.
Even though that means less time at home, it means more time for bonding, and for an exclusive focus on hockey.
“I think the playoffs are a little different,” Cal Clutterbuck said. “It’s fine. It’s good to get all together in the same spot the night before. You watch the [other] games that are going on and then you get to bed. It keeps the group together.”
Said Kyle Okposo: “It’s nice to let the body heal and relax and spend some time with the family and get away from it a bit, but at the same time you want to stay in it and make sure you are sharp mentally . . . It is important being around the guys.
“There are only eight teams playing right now. This is a bonus time. You have to use that time to get closer. We have a pretty tight-knit group, but it’s always fun to hang out with each other and keep building that camaraderie.”
The players are staying in a hotel in lower Manhattan, so the distance in miles to Barclays Center is not far. But the trip can be longer than it should be, depending on . . . well, you know.
“With the traffic around here there isn’t much down time,” Clutterbuck said. “You’re racing back to get to sleep [in the afternoon] and then you’re kind of ready to come back here. Two miles is 20 minutes.”