Scream, stamp your feet and make as much noise as you can. The New York Islanders are counting on it.
The Islanders are returning home to Barclays Center, as their first-round playoff series shifts to Brooklyn on Sunday night. After splitting the first two games with the Florida Panthers in Sunrise, the Islanders have effectively taken home-ice advantage, as they can win the series by just winning at home, where they’ve gone 25-11-5 in the regular season. Now, it’s up to the fans to help them use it by being loud and cheering on the orange and blue.
“I expect it to be similar to how it’s been at the Coliseum,” John Tavares said. “Our fans create such a great environment, such a great atmosphere and we really feed off them. They really make it a raucous, hostile place, so it’ll be fun to experience that for the first time in Brooklyn.”
Hostile seems to be an apt word. According to Kyle Okposo, Islanders’ fans made an impression on the last two teams they played in the playoffs – the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2013 and the Washington Capitals in 2015.
“Both teams that I played [at the Coliseum] in the playoffs – Pittsburgh and Washington – said it was crazy and tough to play in,” Okposo said. “I hope we carry that into our first series at the Barclays Center.”
It’s tough to recreate a playoff atmosphere during the regular season, but Head Coach Jack Capuano said he witnessed it when the Islanders played the Rangers in December.
“I believe we got a taste of it this year,” Capuano said. “The first real taste for me was the Ranger game at home. Just to see how loud it was. I just love New York fans. I love the atmosphere in the building and how vocal they are. We’re excited.”
To get hyped for Sunday’s playoff game, a pre-game playoff party will be staged at the Resorts Word Casino NYC plaza prior to the game. The event will feature a live band, a DJ and a series of special guests including Mike Bossy, Clark Gillies and Sparky the Dragon. Fans are encouraged to arrive at 5 p.m. for the pre-game party.