Island Fever (Metropolitan Division Notebook)

Times at the Barclays Center have been real good for the Islanders, who haven't lost in regulation at home since Jan. 25. (Al Bello/Getty Images)
Times at the Barclays Center have been real good for the Islanders, who haven’t lost in regulation at home since Jan. 25. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

The number of logistical issues the New York Islanders have encountered in their first season at their new home, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, are numerous; The playing ice conditions have been subpar, many seats have obstructed views and travel by players and fans to the arena have not been pleasant. All that has led to the Islanders having the second-lowest attendance in the National Hockey League.

All of that, and the Islanders players can’t wait to return home right now. The team is currently in Dallas right now, the end of a stretch that has seen the Isles play 12 of its last 14 games on the road.

“I think everybody is kind of looking forward to getting home,” Kyle Okposo told Newsday right before the game against the Stars. “It’s been a long month. We had a long trip and came back and didn’t really have many games at home. Twelve of 14, that’s a tough stretch for anybody, especially at this time of the year when your body is worn down. We’re looking forward to getting home and sleeping in our own bed.”

Getting back home may very well be the key to the Islanders’ push to finish in the top two of the division and host a first-round playoff series. Of New York’s final 12 games, eight of them are in Brooklyn, with another game in Manhattan at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers. Taking into account that the Islanders haven’t lost a home game in regulation in almost two months (Jan. 25), the home stretch might be as important to New York than any other team in the Eastern Conference.

Not a bad home ice advantage for a team with bad ice…among those other issues at the crib in Flatbush.

“It’s definitely better to be at home,” said left winger Brock Nelson. “It’s a little more comfortable when you’re in your own routine and you know what’s going on around you. It’s a little bit different on the road. It’s nice to get away sometimes and be with the guys, but always nice to be home.”

It’s not the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in terms of charm, but Barclays Center may very well be the second coming of Fort Neverlose, especially in the last month of the season.

News and Notes

*In a preview of the possible second-round matchup in Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Pittsburgh Penguins used a strong third period to take down Washington 6-2 and lay a claim that they might be the favorites to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals…and beyond. The Capitals were able to overcome an early two-goal deficit and tie the game, but the Penguins used four unanswered goals – three in the third period – to claim the win. Washington is going to win the Presidents’ Trophy, as their impressive 51-15-5 record speaks for itself. However, it’s the Penguins that have won six consecutive games, as their defense has gotten healthy at the right time. After the Mike Sullivan era started with a thud earlier in the season when he was replaced Mike Johnston two months into the season, Pittsburgh looks as if they’ve finally found the groove we’ve been expecting from them all season long.

[Cover photo (Washington Capitals) courtesy of Maddie Meyer/Getty Images]

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