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Second Round

Islanders counting on Barclays Center crowd to be 'intense' for Game 1

New York moving from Coliseum to Brooklyn arena for series vs. Hurricanes

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. -- Thomas Hickey knows how loud Barclays Center can be. He remembers the roar that followed his overtime goal when the New York Islanders defeated the Florida Panthers in Game 3 of the 2016 Eastern Conference First Round.

Hickey and the Islanders will try to create a similar atmosphere when they play their first game in Brooklyn in more than two months in Game 1 of the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Second Round against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS). The Islanders haven't played a game at Barclays Center since Feb. 16 after they split 41 regular-season games between there and Nassau Coliseum, their home for 43 years before they moved to Brooklyn for the start of the 2015-16 season.

 

[RELATED: Complete Islanders vs. Hurricanes series coverage]

 

The Coliseum was the Islanders' home for Games 1 and 2 of their first-round sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Barclays Center will host all of their remaining home games in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Hickey is confident the fans will bring the noise to the arena, just like they did to the more intimate Coliseum. 

"It is the people, it is the fans," Hickey said. "But when it's playoff hockey … it's easy that we love the Coliseum, and obviously it was great in the first round. 

"But look back to how intense it was when we were there a couple years ago. [It was] every bit as intense as it was at the Coliseum."   

As for the home-ice advantage the Coliseum was supposed to bring for the Islanders as opposed to Barclays Center, the numbers were almost identical; New York went 12-7-2 at their former home and 12-6-2 in Brooklyn, including wins in their final five regular-season games there.

But Friday will be their first game there since a 5-2 victory against the Edmonton Oilers more than two months ago; they played their 12 remaining home games during the regular season at the Coliseum, which is down the street from the Islanders practice facility and roughly 10 minutes from where the majority of the players live.

Much like they did in 2016, the Islanders are expected to skate at Barclays Center in the morning and stay in Brooklyn on gamedays. 

"If you had a preference, you'd stay at the Coliseum," Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello said. "But a combination for different reasons that we're at the Barclays, so it's not a distraction. We did that all year long with the split, so why should it get in the way right now? This is the most exciting time of the season, so we can't allow anything to get in the way.

"I haven't heard a word around the locker room anywhere about this or 'I wish this,' or 'I wish that.' Just focus on what we've got control of. That's what the players have done all year, focus on what they have control [of], what their job is and what their responsibilities [are]."

Video: Impact of long break on Blue Jackets, Islanders

Bailey, a first-round pick (No. 9) at the 2008 NHL Draft and the longest-tenured member of the Islanders, said he sees some similarities between the Coliseum, which seats 13,917 for hockey, and Barclays Center, which has a capacity of 15,795 for hockey. He knows who is most responsible for the noise. 

"It gets rocking in there, there's no question," said Bailey, who is in his 11th NHL season. "I think the layout of that arena too, it seems like the fans are just right on top of you, so it creates a great atmosphere.

"For us, I think our fanbase has been the ones that have created that atmosphere at the Coliseum. It's not just the building itself, it's what they create that makes it special. I'm sure it'll be a great atmosphere."

So when the Islanders take the ice for Game 1 at home for a second straight playoff series after not having that advantage since 1988, captain Anders Lee knows what to expect.

It's not the building, but the people inside.

"It's been our home for 3½ years," Lee said. "We're so used to it, it's really nothing's changed. You know how it is; the second you walk back in the building, you'll feel like it's just been a couple months. But I don't think it's going to be much different.

"The way our fans get up for these games, it's going to still be rocking." 

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