Matt Martin still remembers how loud Barclays Center was when the Islanders beat the Florida Panthers and advanced to the second round of the 2016 playoffs.
That's precisely why he's not concerned about the Islanders returning to Brooklyn for the second round of the playoffs this year after playing the first round at NYCB Live. As far as he's concerned, as long as Islanders fans fill the building, it'll be rowdy atmosphere.
"Barclays was an outstanding atmosphere in the Florida and Tampa series a few years back," Martin said. "When you're talking regular season games and fans live in Suffolk County on a Tuesday and Thursday coming to a game, it's tough. But during the playoffs our fans are going to be there and they'll blow the roof off the place like they always do. We're excited to have them stand behind us. In terms of venue, it really doesn't matter, our fans will bring the noise and we just have to go out there and do our jobs and feed off the crowd."
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The Islanders are returning to Barclays for the first time since Feb. 16, as they played the final 12 regular season games and first round of the playoffs on Long Island.
After playing three-and-a-half seasons in Brooklyn, the Isles insist there are no issues with returning to Barclays Center after a two-month hiatus. They're used to the ins and outs of the building, which Head Coach Barry Trotz said has more spacious team amenities than the refurbished Coliseum.
"From our side, all the amenities, like the dressing rooms, are better," Trotz said. "The only difference is a little bit of convenience and we'll take that out. That won't be a big deal."
The "convenience" factor is the 45-minute train ride to the rink, as opposed to a quick drive to the Coliseum. If it has been an inconvenience, it hasn't shown in the Isles record, as the team went 12-6-2 at Barclays Center this season, nearly identical to their Coliseum record of 12-6-3. The Isles are 78-48-18 all-time on the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic Ave.
"It's not a distraction, we did it all year long with the split," Isles President and GM Lou Lamoriello said. "Why should it get in the way right now? This is the most exciting time of the season and this is why you play."
Lamoriello said he hadn't heard any concerns from the players, who have maintained the games could be played anywhere and they're just excited to be in the second round.
"It doesn't matter where you play, it's a playoff game and you'll be excited no matter what," Casey Cizikas said. "We've been in this position before going to Brooklyn. I think we're just excited to get back to playing."
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There are no concerns about the atmosphere either. Thomas Hickey, who scored the OT winner in Game 3 vs Florida at Barclays Center in 2016, echoed Martin's sentiment that it's the fans in the seats who make an Isles playoff atmosphere what it is.
"It is the people," Hickey said. "Looking back at how intense it was a couple of years ago, it was every bit as intense as the Coliseum. I think that storyline will fade pretty quick once we get on the ice and feel the energy in there."
Trotz, who'd encouraged fans to tailgate early outside the Coliseum, said he expects the fans to be just as loud.
"Instead of being in parking lots, they'll be on trains," the coach said. "I know our fans are going to be wild.