Jordan Eberle has heard the stories.
The parking lot tailgating. The seemingly unceasing pandemonium. The passion.
And he is excited for the opportunity to experience the madness that is an Islanders home playoff game at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum for himself.
“I’ve heard lots of rumors,” Eberle said after Wednesday’s practice at Northwell Health Ice Center. “The tailgating, the crowd getting wild even before the game starts. I look forward to it. I’ve only experienced playoffs in Edmonton. That was great. And this would be just another one.”
When the Stanley Cup playoffs begin next week, it will be Eberle’s second time playing in the NHL postseason. Eberle was a member of the 2016-17 Oilers team that lost in the second round to the Anaheim Ducks in seven games. And a significant amount of criticism was directed toward Eberle, who did not score a goal despite recording 22 shots in 13 games against the Ducks and San Jose Sharks.
The Oilers' season ended with a 2-1 loss to the Ducks on May 10, 2017. On June 22, Eberle was traded to the Islanders for Ryan Strome. And now, with two games remaining in this regular season beginning with Thursday’s game at the Panthers and Saturday night’s finale against the Capitals in Washington, Eberle believes the experience in Edmonton will benefit him when the puck is dropped next week for the second season.
“Even going through that is going to help me this time," he said. "It’s a second time around, I know how the playoff games are, and I’ve experienced it before. So in that aspect, [I’m] definitely a more confident player.
Also adding to his confidence is that he is scoring goals. Eberle, who has 19 goals and 18 assists this season, has scored four goals in the Islanders’ last three games, and five in the last five games.
“The last little bit I’ve been getting a lot of chances,” said Eberle, who has 10 shots on goal in the five-game stretch. “[And the puck] is starting to go in a little bit more. It’s the right time of the year to start heating up and hopefully I can bring my best come playoff time.”
Eberle, 28, is an unrestricted free agent this summer. Teams value goal scorers, and a top-six right winger with 478 points (209 goals and 269 assists) in 664 career games should garner interest from teams looking to add offensive punch.
Eberle has scored at least 20 goals in every season except for his rookie year of 2010-11 when he finished with 18 in 69 games, and the 2012-13 lockout season when he recorded 16 in 48 games.
“The biggest thing is you want to be consistent. Every year you want to be a guy known for scoring 20 goals every year,” Eberle said. “I think I have that resume just based on every year. I want to be known as that kind of player.”