Counting Down The Days: A Look Towards The "Last" Half of the Season

The Islanders have already surpassed the midway point of the season, embarking on the second half of a year that is marking the end of an era for this organization.

There are currently 40 games remaining of the regular season, leaving only 24 games left to be played at the only building they have called home for the past 43 years; Nassau Coliseum.

With the off-season moves that GM Garth Snow made this summer, many predicted that the last year at the Madhouse on the Meadowbrook would be a memorable one. But it’s doubtful that many Islanders fans and hockey pundits expected the Islanders to be sitting atop the Metropolitan Division as they prepare to face their biggest rivals tonight, the New York Rangers.

And no one in Islanders country is complaining. For the first time in at least a decade, an Islanders/Rangers rivalry match-up holds more to each fan than just bragging rights. The Rangers, winners of 13 of their last 14 games played, are fourth in the Metropolitan Division and only five points behind the first placed Islanders.

Despite the 40 games that still remain, this game is a benchmark test for both clubs as they each are striving for the top spot in the division as the 2015 season continues.

Although these emotions that each fan is currently experiencing are exciting and great, they are also bittersweet. Acknowledging that only 24 games remain in the old barn (or as my brother likes to call it, “Castle ‘Ders” due to his appreciation for Game of Thrones), is a tough pill to swallow.

But it is a pill that we all have to take, because unlike many other situations that fans experience, this is truly the only building that every fan, and New York Islanders sweater, has called home.

It may only seem that fans are the ones that are suffering through a wonderful, yet troubling season due to the circumstances, but they are not. Each player that wears an orange and blue sweater on their back is absorbing the energy that has been felt throughout the Coliseum, as well as local rivaling arenas.

The new “Yes! Yes! Yes!” chants have taken the Coliseum by storm. Having started in the section that used to be referred to as Loudville, the chant has taken over as part of a regular goal ritual. On games where the Islanders win at home (which has been often, given their 14-4-0 record at the Coliseum), the three stars selection is typically followed by one last “Yes! “ chant from all in attendance.

The new chant has surged from the building to the players on the ice as well, as this video below shows that the team loves the enthusiasm and completely buys into it.

Just look at the team’s captain John Tavares screaming the “Yes!” chant after winning the game in overtime on the road to a select group of Islanders fans in the New Jersey Devils’ crowd. It doesn't take long for the rest of his teammates to join in with him as well.

It has already been a historical year for this franchise and its fan base, but the team’s recent success has made it easy to overlook what is being lost on Long Island.

Long Island’s loss will evidently be Brooklyn’s gain (and my personal one since I recently moved to Brooklyn – coincidentally, I promise), but there is no truer statement than the one I am about to write.

The New York Islanders forever will belong on Long Island.

Expect fans to chant “Yes!” in the old barn several more times, louder than ever, with these last 24 games at the Coliseum.

Oh, and don’t forget the “Yes!” chants you are likely going to hear raging through a packed Madison Square Garden tonight.

-Rob McGowan


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