After a week away from Barclays Center, the Islanders returned home Monday night determined to make Brooklyn feel a bit more homey.
They began this first season in the city with 10 of their first 15 games at home, and their 5-3-2 record in that span wasn't all they'd hoped for. "It's no excuse by any means, but we're still getting used to the routine here," Jack Capuano said. "On the road, the players know the routine."
The three games in California were the best three-game stretch the Islanders have had this season, even with a 2-1 loss to the Kings sandwiched by wins. They were 2-3-1 in their last six home games before the trip.
So on Monday night, it was back to commuting on the Long Island Rail Road, to day hotel rooms and a less-than-capacity crowd. There was one minor change: Instead of the regulars taking a morning skate, many of them chose to shoot some hoops on the Nets' practice court inside Barclays Center.
Capuano's view is not necessarily shared by all his players. "It's weird how you just forget about the commute, how different it is," Brock Nelson said. "We all feel like we know it by now, how you know you have to plan accordingly to get here in the morning. It's second nature now, I feel."
Hickey back on ice
Defenseman Thomas Hickey (left leg) skated for the first time since Oct. 25, when he suffered his injury. He was projected to miss a month, so if he can return by the end of the week against the Canadiens, that would be on the short end of his time.
Rookie defenseman Adam Pelech was a healthy scratch with Marek Zidlicky returning to the lineup. Zidlicky has played two of the Isles' four back-to-backs, so Saturday's absence was a planned rest for the 38-year-old.
"He played well for us, obviously," Capuano said of Pelech, who might return to Bridgeport on Tuesday with the Islanders not playing until Friday. Bridgeport also doesn't play until Friday, so if Hickey can return by then, no extra defenseman will be necessary.