The last time Nassau Coliseum hosted a playoff series, the tailgating crowd heckled then Washington Capitals Head Coach Barry Trotz as he walked to the rink from the Long Island Marriott.
That was it for Trotz's trot across the plaza, as the coach opted to take a cab to the rink to games four and six to avoid walking through the gauntlet.
After leading the Islanders back to the postseason, Trotz could crowd surf his way through the Coliseum parking lot if he really wanted to when the Isles host game one vs Pittsburgh on Wednesday night. While he's beloved by the Coliseum crowd now, he knows what's in store for the visiting Penguins at the old barn.
"When we were in the visitor's side, which wasn't the most elegant side to be on, the building was shaking before the game," Trotz said of the 2015 playoffs. "This is warmups and the building is rocking and shaking. We get out there and they are yelling at you and are on top of you. If you are leaving the game, you have to duck the odd beer here and there, keep dry. It's a great atmosphere."
The Islanders are counting on that atmosphere as the playoffs return to Long Island for the first time in four years. They'll have home-ice advantage for the first time since 1988 and are looking to use it.
"We really wanted home ice, we've seen how special the Coliseum has been with all the fans," said Robin Lehner, who has been embraced by Isles fans in his first year with the team. "It's going to be a really fun series, they are a good team and it's going to be a good challenge. If we stick to our game, I like our chances."
It's been a raucous homecoming this season for the Isles, who've played to 97.1% capacity at the Coliseum, including 14 sellouts. Fans literally popped one of the stanchions out by banging on the glass during warmups of the Isles' return on Dec. 1 and the building was certainly hostile when the Toronto Maple Leafs visited in February.
"There's some serious buzz going on and these fans deserve it, they've been great for us all year," Mathew Barzal said. "This group couldn't be happier that we are back at the Coliseum. That first game back at the Coliseum was something special and definitely looking forward to Wednesday and Friday."
The Islanders, especially the ones who played in the 2013 series against the Penguins or the 2015 series against the Caps, are looking forward to playing playoff hockey at the Coliseum again.
"The Coliseum definitely has that older building type of feel," said Cal Clutterbuck, whose empty netter in Game Six was the last playoff goal at the Coliseum. "It's one of the few buildings left in the league that has the unique and home flavor to us. I know it's not a great place for opposing teams to come in and play. It's an advantage for us forsure."
Matt Martin said the memories of the crowd and the noise in 2013 are still vivid, especially hearing the crowd from the locker room. The "Mayor of Long Island" is looking to make some more.
"We were sitting down there shaking and had the chills, it was an unbelievable experience," Martin said. "It was just such a cool atmosphere and it never disappoints in the Coliseum, so we're excited to have home ice in our building and get off to a good start."
Video: Coliseum Gives Me Goosebumps