DETROIT — Matt Martin already has played 10 times in the U.S. version of his hometown. Still, every trip back to the Motor City is special.
“Yeah, for sure,” said the gritty left wing, who grew up on the other side of the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario. “I get to go home the night before and see my family. It’s my mom’s favorite meal. She bakes some stuff for the boys afterward, too. It’s always special to go home to see family and friends. We’re pretty close to the border. They come to games.”
The Islanders will open a two-game road trip against the Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on Monday night. They will play in Montreal on Tuesday night.
They did not practice on Sunday after snapping a season-high three-game losing streak with a 2-0 win over the Blue Jackets on Saturday night at Barclays Center. Coach Barry Trotz said he thought the team was still dragging from its 0-2-1 California swing and arriving home early Thanksgiving morning after a cross-country flight.
“It was around 8 in the morning and it’s Thanksgiving,” Trotz said. “So they’re up, they’ve got kids and all the demands of that, and a lot of the families are in town. I just don’t think the guys have gotten a lot of rest coming back. We practiced [on Friday]. We need to recharge the batteries a little bit and I think this extra day here will do that.”
Martin played an energetic — and season-high — 15:00 on Saturday and had two shots, one blocked shot and five credited hits. His identity line with center Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck was the only intact trio after Trotz changed his combinations entering the game.
Martin grew up a fan of the Red Wings — and Tigers and Lions — though he said Windsor is fairly evenly divided by Red Wings and Maple Leafs supporters. He said that without traffic, he could get to a game in Detroit in about 15 to 20 minutes. He joked that even though he was coming from Canada, that’s easier than trying to get to the Meadowlands from Long Island for a Jets or Giants game, or even to the Bronx for a Yankees game.
Martin has one goal, three assists and six penalty minutes in 10 regular-season games in Detroit, seven with the Islanders and three during his two-season interlude with the Maple Leafs. He scored the third-period winner in the Islanders’ 3-2 victory on Dec. 8, 2018.
Monday will be his fourth game at the Red Wings’ new home, which opened in 2017 to replace Martin’s beloved Joe Louis Arena.
“I think The Joe is a special place, a lot like the Coliseum,” Martin said. “It’s an old building. Loud. A lot of history. The new building is beautiful. But it doesn’t quite hold the noise like The Joe used to. I remember The Joe being so loud, like the Coliseum. It was a pretty rowdy place and very fun to play in.”