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New York Islanders

Doc Emrick: Islanders Wouldn’t have been swept by Carolina at Nassau Coliseum

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Mike "Doc" Emrick

How tough is it for an opponent to play at the Nassau Coliseum? In legendary broadcaster Mike “Doc” Emrick’s eyes it is so tough to play there that if the New York Islanders had faced the Carolina Hurricanes there in 2019 New York would not have been swept out of the playoffs.

The Islanders swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in the First Round of the playoffs that year while playing their home games at Nassau Coliseum. When the series shifted to Barclays Center for the next round, the Islanders found themselves quickly bounced from the postseason.

“I would argue that the Islanders would not have been swept two years ago if they were able to get Carolina in (Nassau Coliseum),” Emrick said during an appearance on Hockey Night in New York. “I think that playing them in there as they did Pittsburgh in there would have made a big difference because that’s an intimidating place to play when the fans are cranked up. And they sure were against the Penguins.”

Doc Emrick did not call any of the Islanders’ series with Pittsburgh in 2019, but he was on the call in 2015 during their first goodbye to Nassau Coliseum. The longtime NBC broadcaster called Game 3 of the First Round series the Islanders played against the Washington Capitals.

Emrick’s voice narrated the overtime goal scored by John Tavares just seconds into overtime that sent the original Nassau Coliseum into a frenzy. The moment stood out to Emrick so much so that he mentioned it in October when he announced his retirement.

“Inside Nassau Coliseum, I never heard a louder ovation,” Emrick said during a conference call in October. “I can’t recall a louder ovation than when John Tavares scored an OT winner against Washington in the playoff series the Isles had there.”

During Sunday’s interview, Doc Emrick elaborated a little more on the moment Tavares scored the overtime winner.

“That goal was scored right in front of me,” Emrick said during the podcast. “Our location tended to be over one blue line rather than at center and that goal was scored right in front of me so I could see it all the way.”

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New York Islanders

BACK AT THE BARN: What It Was Like Being at an Empty Nassau Coliseum for a Game

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The New York Islanders home rink of Nassau Coliseum

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Prior to this week, the last time the New York Islanders had stepped foot on Nassau Coliseum ice was March 7, 2020. While it was only 10 months ago, in retrospect it seems like a lifetime ago.

COVID-19 had only just started to creep into the sports universe. What would transpire a week later wasn’t even imaginable at the time. So there was a sense of familiarity and brief normalcy when I walked into the Coliseum on Monday afternoon for the Islanders home opener against the Boston Bruins.

under normal circumstances, in January I am usually fully engulfed in the Islanders season. Weekends are planned around game and practice coverage, or that odd trip on the road with the Islanders. Instead, the first few months of the traditional hockey season were spent wondering if there would even be hockey games to cover at all.

To say I was looking forward to being at Monday’s game would be an understatement.

Nassau Coliseum exterior Walking into the Nassau Coliseum you were quickly reminded of the current state of the world. Signs about the need to wear a mask at all times inside the building were everywhere, as were Purell hand sanitizing stations. Security checked our temperature at the door and media members and staff entering had to fill out a COVID-19 questionnaire.

It’s a similar procedure for those of us that attend Islanders practices in person, so it had become a sort of second nature.

What was the most jarring thing on Monday was the quiet of the arena. Those of us covering games aren’t allowed into the Coliseum until an hour before game time, which would mean during normal times that the concourse would be bustling with fans and vendors selling overpriced beer and pretzels.

You would move at a snail’s pace trying to walk from the media gate to the press box elevators. Instead, it was a brisk walk onto the concourse and into the inner bowl where they have us set up to watch the games from. If there is any silver lining, then it’s the fact that we’re down a bit lower than where the Coliseum press box is, but I still enjoy watching from above to see how plays develop and get a different angle on the game.

The Islanders tried to keep the game presentation the same as they would if the building had been packed with fans. They blasted the music during warmups and during a stoppage of play — albeit at noticeably lower decibel than previously — pump-up videos were on the video board and goals and penalties were announced by the public address announcer.

Cardboard fans

And they pumped in crowd noise, which wasn’t all that bad and helped keep some figment of a normal game experience. When the Islanders faced the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, the volume of the crowd noise did not go over so well, but Monday on Long Island, it was done just right.

In fact, on Thursday during the Islanders 4-1 win over New Jersey, the fake crowd noise was almost nonexistent.

To that end, what was the oddest part of the whole experience so far was the emptiness of the Nassau Coliseum. Sure, people have their jokes about how empty the building has been in years past when the team wasn’t doing well, but at its best, the Coliseum is one of the toughest places to play in the NHL

In large part due to the fans that inhabit it. Adjusting to the calm and quiet, except for the music and fake noise, was something that took time.

Through all of the oddities, it was good to be back in an NHL rink.

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New York Islanders

Barzal Dazzles, Drives Isles in Win Over New Jersey | NYHN+

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Mathew Barzal

If there were any concerns about Mathew Barzal’s game because of his late arrival to training camp, the 23-year-old has quickly dispelled them with his dominant play on Thursday night.

It was Barzal’s three points (1g, 2a) along with linemate Jordan Eberle’s two goals that pushed the Islanders to a 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils at Nassau Coliseum.

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New York Islanders

AIR JORDAN! Eberle Scores Twice as Islanders Down Devils

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Jordan Eberle scores for the New York Islanders

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Jordan Eberle scored his first two goals of the year as the New York Islanders defeated the New Jersey Devils 4-1 at the Nassau Coliseum.

The two-goal effort from Eberle came on a night that the Islanders’ top-six forwards contributed to all four of the team’s goals. Eberle, Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson combined for six points.

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“You want to get off to a good start,” Eberle said. “You put the puck in once and you start to feel it especially when you get into game three, four, five. You want to contribute. My linemates, we created a few chances and we had some good looks the past few games. We hit a few posts and we just haven’t really capitalized. It’s nice that we finished a few off today.”

Eberle’s two-goal night was his first the Aug. 4 against the Florida Panthers during the qualifying round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Barzal had his first three-point performance (one goal, two assists) since March 5 against Ottawa and Nelson’s third-period goal was his second of the season.

Thursday’s win over New Jersey played out in a similar fashion to the New York Islanders season-opening win over the New York Rangers. They dominated the first period, outshooting New Jersey 15-6, and scoring twice before having to hold off a push from the Garden State visitors in the second.

“The first period was more of our identity,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “New Jersey has some really good speed. … I thought we just played the right way. We jumped on them. They’ve been a quick start team. I thought that was key and then getting that late goal was good. I thought we had enough chances, enough zone time that we should have been getting that second goal.”

Semyon Varlamov helped fend off the second-period surge by New Jersey, but had his shutout streak snapped at 142:10 after Nathan Bastian scored from the high slot. Varlamov’s shutout streak from the start of the season was the eighth longest in NHL history.

Varlamov’s job was made easier by the Islanders’ strong power play on Thursday, which converted on two of its three chances against New Jersey. Both came in the third period and allowed the Islanders to fortify their lead.

“I think last two years he’s been pretty consistent the whole way through,” Barzal said. “I don’t think there’s ever been a stretch where he hasn’t played well. To start the season, it’s really nice to see him come back and just kind of dominate in net. He just looks calm and feels real secure with him in between the pipes.”

Already up 2-1, Eberle cashed in quick on an early third-period power play for the Islanders. A shot by Noah Dobson missed the net and bounced right to Eberle, who was able to beat Scott Wedgewood from a tough angle.

Nelson scored the Islanders’ second power-play goal of the night at 5:16 of the third. He was able to deflect a Nick Leddy shot past  Wedgewood to give the Isles a three-goal lead.

Josh Bailey Plays Against New Jersey After Coming Off COVID Protocol List

The New York Islanders jumped to an early lead less than five minutes into the game. Barzal took the puck from his own end and into the offensive zone, where he fired a blistering shot into the corner of the net to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead.

After controlling the play and keeping the Puck in New Jersey’s end for most of the first period, the Islanders found paydirt again with 20.9 seconds left in the first. Barzal did a good job to force a New Jersey turnover in the Islanders end and then quickly move the puck up to Anders Lee.

The Islanders captain muscled the puck past PK Subban to Eberle, who put the backhander past Scott Wedgewood.

New Jersey cut the Islanders lead to one in the second period. A shot by Bastian from the high slot got by Varlamov for New Jersey’s only goal.

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