As Josh Bailey drove to Nassau Coliseum this morning, he could sense the excitement surrounding tonight’s home opener.
But that’s pretty easy when you see fans tailgating in the rain, eight hours before puck drop.
“It’s always exciting, it’s a special night,” Bailey said of the home opener. You drive to the parking lot and see fans tailgating, having a good time, getting rowdy and it’s always a great atmosphere.”
While the home opener is always a special night, tonight’s game carries the extra weight of being the 42nd and final home opener on Hempstead Turnpike. There will be lots of time for nostalgia as the final games approach at the end of the season, but Head Coach Jack Capuano said looking up at the banners, he holds a great appreciation for what the dynasty teams achieved.
“If you look at the banners and the history and what they did, it’s incredible,” he said. “You sit back and you definitely look at it and think about how great it was for those guys. I know it’s a special year with the move and I want to make it special for the fans there’s no question.”
Before the Islanders close it down in the spring, they want to open it up with a bang. With a packed house expected and an energized fanbase, motivation and intensity should come naturally tonight.
“It’s electric when it’s packed and we’re giving them something to cheer about,” Bailey said. “There aren’t many rinks louder than this rink. We want to go out there and have a good showing tonight.”
The Islanders started their season on the right foot Friday, downing the Carolina Hurricanes 5-3 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC. The Hurricanes were a thorn in the Islanders side over the past two seasons, but now the Islanders have won two straight against their Metropolitan Division rivals.
News, notes and quotes:
The Islanders held an optional morning skate today at Nassau Coliseum. Here are some news, notes and quotes from today's skate.
Capuano on the decision to start Johnson: That’s why we have two quality goalies.
If it ain’t broke…: Capuano said he’s going with the same lineup from Friday’s 5-3 win.
Special Teams: The Islanders officially went 2-for-3 with the man advantage Friday night, but also scored a third goal as a direct result of their power play. Brock Nelson’s first goal came just as Jay Harrison’s penalty expired, but the Hurricanes defenseman had yet to leave the box, let alone join the play.
Okposo on the power play: I thought we moved the puck around pretty well. We were able to support each other and we worked. You aren’t going to score all the time – but as long as you’re staying on them and getting that puck back, you’re going to have some success.
Home Opener’s Past: The Islanders lost their inaugural home opener (and first game) 3-2 to the Atlanta Flames on Oct. 7, 1972. Captain Ed Westfall scored the first goal in the team’s history at 17:29 of the second period.
The Islanders are 25-12-4 in home openers.