The Flyers 'still making the same mistakes'
After the Islanders traded his rights this past offseason, Mark Streit signed a four-year, $21 million deal with the Flyers on June 28. (USA Today Images)
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- He played the point here at Nassau Coliseum the past five NHL seasons.
Old buildings hold old memories for players, such as Flyers defenseman Mark Streit, who will meet his former Islander teammates Saturday night for the first time since having his rights traded last June.
For Streit, his fondest memory of Nassau Coliseum is the competitive six-game playoff series last spring against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“We won the two games at home but couldn’t pull it off,” he said. “I was here for five years and the first couple years were tough. Having the building full, the atmosphere, the people, the excitement and the town … that playoff series, that’s what stands out.
“It’s been an emotional [return] for me. I went to Garden City [Friday] and walked around a bit. I have a lot of great memories. It’s nice to be back.”
The 35-year-old Swiss is a no-nonsense kind of guy. He said he wouldn’t allow himself to think about the visit back here at any point this past week until the time was right.
Ironically, lost in the fanfare of coming back here is the fact Streit played his 500th NHL game on Thursday against the Rangers in Philadelphia. No one noticed.
“We won it, my 500th game in the NHL, as well, so it was pretty sweet,” he said. “But obviously it’s exciting to go back, but it’s all about the two points.
“Obviously, you know all the guys after being there for so long. You’re just so used to the rink and the people. I just want to concentrate on the game and play a really solid games. For us, it’s another huge game to keep winning.”
The Flyers are shooting for two “firsts” tonight against the Isles. They are trying to win consecutive games which they haven’t done; and trying not to tie the 1940-41 New York Americans dubious record.
And what record would that be? The Americans were the last NHL club to go 10 straight games out of the gate where they scored two goals or less.
In other words, Craig Berube’s club is shooting – literally – to score three goals in this game. Given the way starting goalie Steve Mason is playing, that should be plenty to win.
“We need to get on the board,” Streit said.
The Islanders won’t be playing here much longer. They are scheduled to relocate to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in 2015-16, although club owner Charles Wang is still negotiating with officials in Uniondale about moving that date up a year.
Streit remembers when the Islanders made the announcement they were moving to Brooklyn a little over one year ago – Oct. 24, 2012.
“I was surprised, because as a player, you thought they would find a solution with Hempstead County there, and then all of a sudden, they have a deal with Brooklyn,” Streit recalled.
“[Barclays Center] is a great building, but for fans living out East, it’s kind of tough to get to Brooklyn because of traffic.
“But the ownership, Charles, they didn’t see a light at the end of a tunnel to get something done. I guess the only solution was to move.”
Wang had tried for years to launch his ill-fated “Lighthouse Project” and when it fell through, he gave up.
“Lights out there, yeah,” Streit quipped. “It’s unfortunate because there are a lot of fans out there. They were going in a good direction with the team. Now they’re moving and they can’t change it. They have to attract some new fans in Brooklyn.”
Most times the Flyers come here, there are huge pockets of fans wearing orange and black and not Islander orange and blue.
“Teams in the East, they’re located so close to each other that you have Flyers fans everywhere,” Streit said. “It’s going to be great. It’s an old rink, but it has something to it and hopefully we have a lot of Flyers fans there.”
So you’re saying it’s actually possible to like Nassau Coliseum?
“I mean, it’s an old building,” Streit replied. “Once it’s packed, it’s a pretty good atmosphere, but you can’t compare it to the Wells Fargo Center.”
Streit captained the Islanders for two seasons. Their future here and later at Barclays is now in the hands of 23-year-old John Tavares.
“That was a given,” Streit said of his successor. “He’s been a great leader and unbelievable player on the ice. When he came in as an 18-year-old, he was so young and yet his dedication to hockey impressed me from day one.
“He worked so hard. He’s a great guy off the ice. I don’t think they could have gone with a better guy as a captain.”
Mason will be in goal again tonight. Mason has started all but two games thus far. … The Islanders came roaring back Friday night with three goals in less than six minutes to upend the Penguins, 4-3, in Pittsburgh. … The Isles playing back-to-back works in the Flyers’ favor. “I don’t think that is something we can be thinking,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. “Early on, they’ll have their legs and be going. We’ll have to stay with them the whole game. It’s going to be important early on to get a lead and get momentum.” … Scott Hartnell returns after missing four games with a rib cage injury. “Looking for him to be physical, get to the net, shoot pucks, just that grinding, power forward style,” Berube said. “That’s his game.”