3 scheduling solutions for the NY Islanders to play their rivals more often

Fans love the intense environment that comes with playing their rivals on home ice.

2024 Navy Federal Credit Union Stadium Series - New York Rangers v New York Islanders
2024 Navy Federal Credit Union Stadium Series - New York Rangers v New York Islanders / Al Bello/GettyImages
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Play each Western Conference team only once instead of twice

The NHL has the same scheduling policy as the NBA for an 82-game season: play each Western Conference team once at home and once on the road. The purpose of this policy is so that every fanbase can experience their favorite teams playing against every star player in the league at least once in each market. For example, star players Matt Duchene and Connor McDavid will travel to Long Island at least once every season.

However, the fans would disagree based on the audience size at UBS Arena. It's easy to say the Isles' attendance is down because the team is struggling. However, the attendance records on home ice are staunch between Eastern and Western Conference opponents. When playing the Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild, and Vancouver Canucks, the audience size was about 14,000. Against divisional opponents, the Isles have sold out the arena every game with the exception of one against the Blue Jackets. Suffice it to say, there is more fan appeal in watching games that matter standings-wise, not necessarily the player appeal.

Under this format, the Islanders would play each Western Conference team only once, with 8 games being at home and 8 on the road. There can be a rotation each season in which teams travel to Long Island with an 'every other year' approach. The NHL could also keep it a surprise, which would provide more intrigue for scheduling releases with fans who live or vacation on the West Coast. In short, this would total 16 games of the Islanders' schedule rather than 32.