Normally, teams in the NHL use the home crowds to their advantage. Again, that’s normally. Things haven’t exactly been normal for the New York Islanders as of late. In fact, things have been awful at home for the Islanders. Over the last five years, the Islanders have had a winning record at home just once, that came in the 2009-10 season with a 23-14-4 record. Every other year it has been one game under the .500 mark at home. Its been a frustrating thing to watch. This year could be the year that the Islanders finally snap the skid and get back to a winning record at home.
What makes this year’s schedule so much fun is that the Islanders host every team in the league at least once. The season kicks off on Oct. 5 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. One of the more interesting matchups for the Islanders is on Nov. 16 when the Detroit Red Wings make their first of two trips into the Coliseum for the year. Why is the matchup against the Red Wings so interesting? Well, the Islanders haven’t lost to the Red Wings in five years and are 6-0-0 in their last six meetings with the Wings. The other matchup at the Coliseum between the two teams takes place on Nov. 29.
The schedule for this year has a nice balance to it, at least regarding when teams from the Western Conference make the trip out to Long Island. There’s a good mix, to my liking anyway, of sprinkling in teams from the West between games against Eastern Conference opponents at home. And with all this influx of different teams and styles of play coming into the Coliseum this year, the Islanders are going to have to be sharp at home.
Back in 2009-10, the last time the Islanders had a winning record at home, they were able to average about four goals per game in wins at home. The current offense on the Islander’s roster has the potential to be able to do that, and do it quite well. Another key factor that will help the Islanders this year is getting the crowd going at home. Crowds at the Coliseum can be one of the loudest in all of the league. It can be really intimidating for opposing teams to come into a hostile environment, and trust me on this one, the crowds at the Coliseum can create one hostile environment to play in. The crowd can only do so much on it’s own though. The players need to give their fans more of a reason to cheer and make noise. After the type of crowds the Coliseum had during the playoffs last year, that should have no problem carrying over into this season.
Sure there’s going to be a slight condensing of the schedule this year, due to the Olympics in February. That’s not going to make much of a difference. The Islanders have a somewhat favorable schedule this year, with a good balance of home stands and road trips. The team will be more rested and have a much easier time getting ready for games at home, which has been a bit of an issue the last few years. With more time, during homestands anyway, to get ready for home games, the Islanders will come out much sharper on home ice and be ready for anything that gets thrown their way.
Matthew Solomon covers the New York Islanders, MLB and NFL for Rant Sports! You can follow him on Twitter!