After a first-round series at Nassau Coliseum, the New York Islanders are shifting their postseason home games to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
During the 2018-19 regular season, the Islanders split home games between the Coliseum–their home from 1972-2015–and Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. This arrangement came as the Islanders continued planning for a proposed arena at Belmont Park, and carried over into the ongoing NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, which saw round-one games played at the Coliseum.
The fan response to home games at Nassau Coliseum was strong during the Islanders’ four-game sweep over the Pittsburgh Penguins, including an enthusiastic crowd during the team’s overtime win in game one. While the Barclays Center’s 2012 opening makes it a far more modern venue–even when accounting for recent renovations to the Coliseum–it was originally designed for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and not the NHL, and has been criticized by Islander fans and players alike for providing a poor experience for hockey. There has also been a good deal of reluctance among fans on Long Island to travel to Brooklyn for games, which is why the team’s part-time return to the Coliseum was welcomed this season.
Those factors have made regular-season games in Brooklyn a challenge, but that might not necessarily be the case during round two and potentially any subsequent postseason series. Despite the change in venue for Islanders postseason games, players such as Matt Martin anticipate that the fan enthusiasm will carry over to Brooklyn. More from the New York Post:
The only other postseason series the franchise has won since 1993 came at Barclays in 2016, when John Tavares beat the Panthers with a goal in double-overtime of Game 6. They then lost to the Lightning in the second round.
“I’ll be honest with you, I enjoyed Barclays Center in the playoffs,” Martin said. “Our fans filled it up and made the noise and made it loud. They’ll be doing that again, I guarantee it.”
This regular season, the Islanders had the worst attendance in the league, averaging 12,442 per game — and that with 97.1 percent capacity at the Coliseum, which holds only 13,971. The split made things complicated, as did the plan that the new arena at Belmont Park could be open for the 2021-22 season, with a hopeful groundbreaking later this summer.
“Regular season is tough,” Martin said. “You have people from Suffolk County — we’re playing Tuesday night in Barclays Center, it’s a tough game to get to.
The Islanders’ opponent in the next round will be determined by the outcome of the ongoing series between the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes. The Capitals hold a 2-1 advantage in the series, which continues with game four tonight at the Hurricanes’ PNC Arena.
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