NEW YORK – It will be a homecoming of sorts and, while current Flyers and ex-New York Islanders coach Scott Gordon isn’t expecting a pep rally or anything, he doesn’t figure to be given a John Tavares boo-fest either.
The Flyers visit that old haunted house, the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, on Sunday for a matinee tussle.
It will be Gordon’s first visit back to his former stomping grounds and it doesn’t sound like he will get too nostalgic over the whole thing.
Gordon’s first crack at the NHL began out on the Island back in the 2008-09 season. He lasted two-plus seasons with a team short on talent, compiling a 64-94-23 mark before he was let go 17 games into the 2010-11 campaign.
How does he feel about going back? Will it be fun?
“Oh, yeah, I’m expecting a video montage,’’ said Gordon with a sly grin after Friday night’s 6-3 win over the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center in Newark. “I just hope they don’t boo me. No snakes.
“One thing I can assure you. . .I didn’t go somewhere (like Tavares) and get rich!’’
But seriously, folks, the Islanders present a formidable roadblock and the Flyers have to play them a total of three times before season’s end.
“They will be ready,’’ Gordon predicted. “This will be a big challenge for us. They obviously have formed an identity over the course of the season and one that’s pretty good. They don’t give up a lot.’’
He can say that again.
Last year, the Islanders gave up the most goals in the NHL. So, ownership decided it had seen enough and relieved both general manager Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight on their duties.
In came a pair of former Stanley Cup winners: Lou Lamoriello (three titles with New Jersey) as GM and Barry Trotz, last year’s Cup-winning coach with the Washington Capitals.
This year? The Islanders have given up the fewest goals.
“This is a different team,’’ Gordon said. “A different style of play that we haven’t seen.’’
The Flyers actually have a tough week, because they host Washington on Wednesday, then visit the Islanders again next Saturday. Those two teams are running one-two in the Metro Division.
“It’s going to get tougher and tougher until the end of the year,’’ Sean Couturier noted. “It’s that time of the year where there’s not a whole lot of room and everyone needs to win.
“We’re a little behind so we need to keep pushing.’’
For a while, it looked like the Flyers had played their last regular-season game at Nassau.
All the stars had to align properly for this Sunday game to happen.
The Islanders have been playing their home games at Barclays Center in Brooklyn the past few years but there appears to be a discomfort level there, both for players and fans.
Recently, it was announced that a new arena will be constructed on the grounds of nearby Belmont Park (horse race track). While that’s going on, the Islanders have moved some of their games back to Nassau, including the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Wouldn’t it be something if the Flyers and Islanders found a way to meet again in the playoffs and recreated that infamous 1980 Stanley Cup Finals series, which Philadelphia fans will always remember for the Leon Stickle missed call leading to elimination in Game 6.
No matter how much they do to make the new building intimate, etc., it will never have the history and atmosphere of Nassau.
>Tough gaining ground
While the Flyers continue to roll (15-3-2 in their last 20), it’s been tough to gain ground.
They pulled to within five points of a playoff spot with the Jersey win as they attempt to become the first team in NHL history to overcome a 16-point deficit.
“There are going to be a lot of games ahead where teams are going to be playing each other,’’ Gordon said. “The theme (for us) has been one game at a time and let the standings take care of themselves.
“We can’t start thinking about what ifs. We just have to go out and do our job.’’