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 Metropolitan Division team 6 times

We just witnessed the Islanders and Rangers draw over 70,000 fans to MetLife Stadium in a state that is not even their own, New Jersey. The night before, the New Jersey Devils and Flyers drew about the same amount of people. This audience size just emulates the passion our fanbases have when competing against one another. The rivalries between each team trace back decades to the opening of the Nassau Coliseum in 1972. Fans traveled from Suffolk County to East Rutherford just to support their hometown team playing the Rangers, a drive that can take up to 4 hours.

Media outlets such as the broadcasters on ABC and sports talk personalities on WFAN described their experience as energetic and an encouraging sign that the NHL is broadening its fanbase. Hall of Famer Bryan Trottier described the rivalry as always intense and a game that every athlete plays with an edge. For this reason alone, just 3 or 4 games a season against the Isles' most hated rivals is not enough. In some seasons such as 2023-24, there will only be one game played against the Devils, Flyers, or Rangers at UBS Arena.

Under a different format, the Islanders would play each divisional opponent 3 times at home and 3 times on the road, totaling 6 games against each team. This would make for 42 games on the regular season schedule, as compared to just 26 this season. In closer review of the standings, every team but the Blue Jackets is in competition for the 3 divisional playoff spots. Games against these opponents in March and April would matter much more if the Isles matched up with each one multiple times down the stretch, rather than play the Ducks and Winnipeg Jets.